• Compliance
  • Report
  • Higher Ed
  • K-12

Title IX and Pregnancy and Parenting Discrimination

Hillary Pettegrew, Esq.
April 2021

Why Read This

Familiarize your K-12 school, college, or university with the Department of Education’s (ED’s) regulations prohibiting discrimination under Title IX on the basis of a student’s pregnancy or parental status.

ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in 2013 issued a “Dear Colleague” letter (DCL) and updated pamphlet highlighting the regulations, which have been in effect since 1975. OCR also stepped up enforcement, and its increased vigilance could lead to more private lawsuits as more pregnant and parenting students become aware of their Title IX rights.

This report and associated checklist summarize the requirements and provide recommendations for compliance.

Note: Title IX applies to higher education and K-12 institutions that accept federal funding. Schools controlled by religious organizations are exempt from Title IX when the law’s requirements would conflict with the organization’s religious tenets. Although Title IX technically protects both students and employees, OCR’s 2013 guidance focuses solely on “pregnant and parenting students.” Employees are likelier to claim pregnancy discrimination under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which amended Title VII, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is making pregnancy discrimination an enforcement priority.

Key Takeaways

  • Schools subject to Title IX may not discriminate against students or exclude them from education programs or activities based on childbirth, pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from these conditions.
  • OCR issued 2013 guidance describing institutions’ obligations to pregnant and parenting students under Title IX, closely tracking the Title IX regulations and putting them into easily understandable language.
  • Events marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX led to a new focus on discrimination against pregnant and parenting students.

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