Title IX, Parenting and Pregnant Students and DSS

Pregnancy itself is not a disability, but many of its complications and side effects can be under the ADAAA. Pregnant women are also protected from discrimination by Title IX even when a pregnancy produces no complications.

A 2013 Dear Colleague letter from the Education Department, directed to K-12 schools is equally applicable (see paragraph below), to postsecondary schools.

Schools must treat pregnant students in the same way that they treat similarly situated students. Thus, any special services provided to students who have temporary medical conditions must also be provided to pregnant students. Likewise, a student who is pregnant or has given birth may not be required to submit medical certification for school participation unless such certification is also required for all other students with physical or emotional conditions requiring the attention of a physician.

One school of thought suggests that if a pregnant student makes a reasonable request  it serves little good to tell the student to work with the Title IX coordinator  when common courtesy via the DSS office could provide some assistance. This is the Nike rule – — “just do it” — in action.   Moreover, DSS offices have experience in working with faculty/students in regards to adjustments and modifications and it makes sense to tap that expertise.

If the pregnancy does have complications of a disabling nature, requesting documentation (to aid in determining appropriate accommodations) is not unreasonable.

Pregnant and Parenting Students Rights: FAQ for College and Graduate Students – Title IX:  Although not a disability issue, DSS professionals may be asked about accommodating pregnant students. Prepared by the National Women’s Law Center, this fact sheet for pregnant and parenting students may help answer many common questions.

Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students Under Title IX of the Education Act Amendments of 1972This 32 page pamphlet is a 2013 revision and update of a Department of Education document first published in 1991.  It has a FAQ section, and discusses strategies to assist educators in supporting pregnant and parenting students and more.  It is important to note that: “[A]lthough this pamphlet focuses on secondary schools, the underlying legal principles apply to all recipients of federal financial assistance, including post-secondary institutions.”

The Pregnant Scholar Project: This site provides resources for students, postdocs, faculty, administrators, and others in institutions of higher education, including colleges, community colleges, universities, and similar programs. Material at the site is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number (IIA-1449752) and is part of the Center for WorkLife Law at University of California Hastings College of the Law.

The NCCSD Clearinghouse and Resource Library: The National Center for College Students with Disabilities (NCCSD) has developed a FAQ resource to help pregnant and parenting students understand their rights and suggests resources at their school.