PRESS RELEASE: A Better Balance Applauds the U.S. Department of Education for Announcing Final Regulations Clarifying Title IX’s Robust Protections for Pregnant and Parenting Students

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Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced its final rule interpreting Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools receiving federal funds. 

The final rule puts critically-needed protections in place for pregnant and parenting students. It guarantees pregnant, postpartum, and lactating students reasonable modifications, such as excused absences to attend prenatal or postnatal appointments, access to online education, extensions on coursework, and rescheduling of exams, as well as other changes to school policies, so they can learn free from sex discrimination as well as harassment. It also requires schools to provide students a clean, private, non-bathroom space and breaks during class to express milk. 

In addition, the new rule makes clear that when students tell their schools that they are pregnant or have a related condition (like lactation), schools must inform them of their Title IX rights and how to access them — a critical measure to ensure pregnant students know their rights and are able to use them. 

A Better Balance previously submitted a comment to the Department of Education calling for a strong final rule, and co-authored a second comment collectively with other pregnant and parenting student advocacy groups. A Better Balance is pleased to see the Department incorporate many of our recommendations.

The final rule will go into effect on August 1, 2024. 

The following is a statement from Samantha Hunt, an Equal Justice Works legal fellow at A Better Balance:

“Pregnant and parenting students deserve to go to school and learn in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. When students aren’t given the support they need to learn, too often they are unable to attend classes or complete coursework — and are ultimately pushed out of school. This educational gap then snowballs, creating serious repercussions for their future educational opportunities and economic security. The new Title IX rule clarifies that schools must act affirmatively to provide critical support to students so that they don’t have to choose between their pregnancies and their education. 

“While there’s still work to be done to ensure students, especially student parents, are supported at school, the new rule is a vital step toward bridging the gap between pregnant and postpartum students and their diplomas.”

Hunt’s fellowship project, sponsored by Covington and Burling, LLP and Merck & Co, provides free legal services to pregnant and parenting students of all ages and educational levels.

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