A Real Support System for Young Mamas and Their Families

Thursday, May 01, 2014

This post is part our #MamasDay 2014 blog series and was submitted by Lauren Khouri from the National Women's Law Center
New 2014 Mamas Day e-card by Melanie Cervantes
Contrary to stereotypes and other negative messages that are so popular with mainstream media, parenthood does not have to be the end of the road for young mamas. Instead, motherhood often motivates and empowers young women to focus on succeeding so they can best provide for themselves and their children. Unfortunately, too often this sense of drive and determination is halted in the face of discrimination and shame. At the National Women’s Law Center, we frequently hear from young moms who face obstacles to staying in school because of their schools’ rigid policies, many of which are illegal under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal civil rights law that bans sex discrimination in education – including pregnancy discrimination.

Moms like Brandi Kostal.

A student at Logan College in St. Louis, Brandi had an emergency C-section towards the end of her spring term. Her school only excused absences for jury duty or military service, and for many classes, missing only a few sessions would qualify her for “attendance failure.” Faced with ruining her academic record and not being able to graduate on time, Brandi returned to classes just 11 days after her emergency C-section.

While in a great deal of pain, Brandi pushed herself and managed to complete all of her work on time, with the exception of two online classes. For those classes, Brandi asked the professor to give her an “incomplete” grade so she could take the midterm and final within a short period of time. Yet when she got her transcript, the professor had given her failing grades in both of those classes. Brandi appealed to the school, but the administration wouldn’t budge.

Here’s the good news—young mamas like Brandi are not alone. NWLC and co-counsel filed a Title IX complaint against Logan for maintaining an attendance policy that discriminated against Brandi and all pregnant students. The school settled the case, agreeing to take important steps to ensure that this type of discrimination does not happen again. Logan adopted a policy that addresses the rights of pregnant and parenting students under Title IX and will now conduct annual trainings for faculty and staff on their obligations under the law. Logan also removed the failing grades from Brandi’s transcript and she graduated on time with her Master’s and Doctorate degree.

Via National Women's Law Center
When educators ignore pregnant and parenting students or stereotype them as low academic achievers, they risk violating Title IX and miss an opportunity to transform young people’s lives by providing the support necessary to improve their educational outcomes. This doesn’t just hurt individuals—it impacts children, families, and communities.

Via National Women's Law Center
This Mamas Day, lawmakers, advocates, and educators alike should be empowering all families to be successful in parenting, education, and employment. We must create a community where mamas of all ages will thrive and women can “lean on”—not just “lean in.”

Lauren Khouri is a Fellow at the National Women’s Law Center, where she advocates for gender equality in education and employment, and works to improve outcomes for pregnant and parenting students and young families. If you think you have been discriminated against by your school or employer because of your pregnancy, send an email to info@nwlc.org.

No comments:

Post a Comment