Today, Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA) and Jared Polis (D-CO), who introduced H.R. 1845, the Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act, issued statements in support of the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) guidance on the Title IX rights of students who are pregnant and parenting students. H.R. 1845, the Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act, would help states and local school districts support pregnant and parenting youth who face unique challenges by providing academic services like parenting and life skill classes while offering incentives for schools to modify policies that remove barriers for pregnant and parenting students to continue their education.
"Teens who become premature parents are often forced to choose between their own education and their baby, stunting their earning potential and increasing the chance that their child may dropout someday as well," said Rep. Chu. "The guidance on Title IX rights issued by the Department of Education will greatly improve the chances that these young care-givers receive the education needed to provide a strong home for their kids. The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act will build on this success, and ensure that pregnant and parenting teens have the opportunity to reach their full potential."
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) guidance to all federally funded education programs on the Title IX rights of students who are pregnant or parenting complete their education and career gives clarity to what are the legal obligations to provide pregnant and parenting students equal educational opportunities and suggests programs to improve educational outcomes for these students.
"Without the right help, young people who become pregnant or have children are at a high risk of dropping out of school," said Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). "I applaud the Department of Education for working to ensure that pregnant and parenting students are not discriminated against as they strive to stay in school and graduate high school college and career ready. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass the Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act, so that pregnant and parenting youth have the resources they need to continue their education and support their new families."
The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world, with 750,000 teen pregnancies each year. Nearly 3 in 10 girls in the U.S. become pregnant by age twenty. The figure is even higher among Latinas (44%) and African Americans (48%). Pregnancy and parenting responsibilities significantly increase a student's risk of dropping out of school: only half of teen mothers have a high school diploma compared to 89 percent of non-mothers. In a nationwide survey of dropout youth, 33% of females and almost 20% of males said that becoming a parent was a major factor in their decision to leave school.