Separate and uninformed: discrimination against pregnant and young Latina mothers in California schools

Thursday, May 05, 2011

By Rocio Córdoba

[As part of our Mama's Day blog series, we are sharing an excerpt from a piece written by Rocio one year ago, when she was Executive Director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. CLRJ has kept up their powerful work with and for young moms through their Justice for Young Families Initiative.]

Separate is not equal. We know that to be true in many contexts, including historically segregated schools, neighborhoods, and institutions. The young people in our communities seeking an equal opportunity to learn, be healthy and thrive face countless challenges as the policies created to support them are but a faint backdrop, if present at all, in their lives.
This is especially true if you are a young person of color in California. And if you happen to be pregnant, or a young mom, the promise of an equal education is made even more obscure by our institutions. Separate schools for pregnant and parenting youth are not equal.

According to a report by California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Young Women Speak Out!, pregnant and parenting young Latinas face systemic discrimination in educational institutions, lack access to equal educational opportunities and experience a dearth of social supports in their communities.

In a series of focus groups conducted in key regions of California, we learned that pregnant and parenting youth experience persistent discrimination and bias from teachers and school officials. This includes pressure to transfer out of comprehensive high schools into alternative programs and being relegated to substandard instruction, despite federal and state legal protections.

One young woman shared her own experience: “I had to leave; my principal or superintendent told me ‘you can’t stay here while you are pregnant. You have to go to another school, because the pregnant school is required for pregnant people.” Another young woman described the “academics” she received at the so-called “pregnancy school” she attended: “my teachers…didn’t even teach the class she just gave us work that we had to work out of our workbooks… She didn’t teach us anything academic wise.”

Read more at RH Reality Check.

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