Pregnant and Parenting Students
Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex — including pregnancy, parenting and all related conditions — in education and in programs and activities that receive federal funding. If you are a pregnant or parenting student, you have the right to stay in school so you can meet your education and career goals. Below are some frequently asked questions from students in postsecondary schools regarding their Title IX rights.
How can I use Title IX to ensure that my pregnancy or family responsibility do not interfere with my education?
Title IX requires professors and administrators treat pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions in the same manner and under the same policies as any other temporary disability. The university can require a pregnant student to provide a doctor’s certification of fitness to continue in an education program or activity only if the same requirement is imposed on all other students with physical or emotional conditions requiring a doctor’s care. Pregnant students must be provided the same accommodations and support services available to other students with similar medical needs. Your professors or administrators should not tell you that you have to drop out of your classes or academic program or change your educational plans due to your pregnancy.
Do my professors have to excuse my absences due to pregnancy, childbirth, or other pregnancy related issues?
Absences due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions cannot be treated or penalized like unexcused absences. When deemed necessary by your medical doctor, absences should be excused. After returning from an excused absence, your professors should allow a reasonable amount of time to make up missed assignments and tests. The makeup assignments and tests must be reasonably equivalent to those missed, but need not be identical. If a professor provides specific “points” or other advantages to students based on class attendance, you must be given the opportunity to earn back the credit from classes missed due to pregnancy. Under Title IX, pregnant students are entitled to the same benefits offered to students with other medical conditions, illness or injury.
Does the university need to provide me with special academic services, like tutoring?
Title IX requires the university provide pregnant students with any special services we provide to students with any other type of temporary disabilities. Please contact the Title IX Office for more information.
If my program requires internships, career rotations or other off-campus elements, can I be excluded from participation?
No. Your program must allow you to continue participating in off-campus programs. If your program provides opportunities to “work in the field,” you cannot be excluded based on your pregnancy. Your professor cannot require a doctor’s note for continued participation unless your professor requires one for all students who have a medical condition that requires treatment by a doctor. If they do ask for a note, they cannot second-guess your doctor’s decision.
What if classmates or professors have made offensive comments about my pregnancy?
Title IX requires the university prevent and address sex-based harassment, including harassment based on pregnancy. If you experience this sort of treatment, you should seek help immediately. The law prohibits anyone from retaliating against you for filing a complaint or raising a concern. You may file a complaint at southeastern.edu/reportit
I would like to take a semester off. Can I keep my student status, scholarships, etc.?
You will keep your status as a student for up to one year. If you want to take off more time than your doctor says is medically necessary, please contact the Title IX Coordinator or Title IX Specialist.
What if I work for the school as a graduate assistant, in addition to being a student? Do I still have the same rights? Do I qualify for maternity leave?
Your rights as an employee are different from your rights as a student. If you work for the school, you may be eligible for family or medical leave, or may qualify for maternity leave under the school’s policy, but that may not include leave from your classes, beyond what is medically necessary.
Yazmyn Smith, MS, CHES®
Title IX Specialist