Louisiana School That Forced Girls To Take Pregnancy Tests Will Change Policy

 @ashleyportero
on August 09 2012 10:31 AM
Women and Society
Childbirth is one of the leading causes of poverty spells -- when a household income drops below what is necessary to meet living expenses -- in the U.S. Reuters

The chairman of a Louisiana charter school that forced pregnancy tests on students suspected of being pregnant said Thursday the institution will change that policy, and that administrators did not realize there was anything illegal about the practice until it was threatened with legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Albert Christman, the chairman of the Delhi Charter School in rural northeast Louisiana, said the policy has gotten "everybody up in a roar" and said only a "handful" of students were affected by the policy, according to The Associated Press. The policy, which has been in place since at least 2006, allows school officials to force girls suspected of being pregnant to take pregnancy tests, and expel them from school if they do not comply with the test. It also requires pregnant students to leave school and complete a home study course.

The school attracted national attention this week after the Louisiana chapter of the ACLU threatened to sue the institution for violating federal protections against gender discrimination, as well as the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

"The right to attend school and to participate fully in activities cannot be denied simply because a student is, or may be, pregnant," Galen Sherwin of the ACLU's Women's Rights Project said in a statement.

Too many school administrators do not realize pregnant students should receive equal treatment and educational opportunities under the law, the National Women's Law Center reports.

"Unfortunately, four decades after its passage, far too few lawmakers, school officials, parents, and students are aware that Title IX's prohibition against sex discrimination protects pregnant and parenting students," the law center said in a June report. "Despite enormous advances for women and girls in education since 1972, there are schools across the country that continue to bar pregnant and parenting students from activities, kick them out of school, pressure them to attend alternative programs, and penalize them for pregnancy-related absences."

It appears that Louisiana educators need a refresher on those Title IX protections. Louisiana Department of Education spokesman Barry Landry told the AP he was unaware of the state's policy for pregnant students.

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