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Pregant Students and Title IX: Protections Are Specific

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The National Association of Secondary School Principals, which administers the National Honor Society, advises its membership that under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, "pregnancy cannot be the basis for automatic rejection," said Ivan Gluckman, counsel to the principals' group. But pregnancy can be "considered as one determinant of character if evidence of paternity is similarly regarded as indicative of character," he added.

In regulations issued in 1975, the specific requirements of Title IX as it relates to pregnancy are spelled out. As summarized by Margaret C. Dunkle, chairman of the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education and former special assistant for education legislation at the U.S. Department of Health, Educa-tion, and Welfare, the regulations provide that:

A school cannot discriminate in admission on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, termination of pregnancy, or recovery.

Once she has been admitted, a school cannot discriminate against a pregnant student in classes, programs, or extracurricular activities.

As a general rule, a school must treat pregnancy as it treats other temporary physical disabilities. For example, medical and health plans and health-insurance policies offered through the school must treat pregnancy like other temporary disabilities in all respects.

While a school may offer separate classes or activities for pregnant students, it cannot force or coerce pregnant students to participate in these classes: Participation must be completely voluntary and pregnant students must be permitted to stay in the regular classroom if they so choose.

Any separate programs for pregnant students must be comparable to those available to other students.

A school can require certification from a physician that a pregnant student is physically and emotionally able to participate in classes and other activities only if it makes the same requirements of other students with medical conditions.

A school must grant medical leave for pregnancy, even if it does not have an official leave policy, if the pregnant student's doctor says that it is medically necessary. After this leave, the pregnant student must be reinstated to the status she had when the leave began.--cc

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