Title IX defends pregnant students, female athletes
Juggling the demands of college life is challenging, and perhaps no group of students knows just how challenging college can be than those facing pregnancy.
Title IX—a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972 that were made to the Higher Education Act of 1965—was put in place to prevent sexual discrimination in federally funded institutions, as well as to give individuals protection against such crimes.
According to the U.S. Department of Education website, the legislation states that, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
The legislation includes a section specifically for pregnant students and another to protect female athletes.
“Pregnant and parenting students are a significant part of our enrollment, a little under 1,000 students,” said Dwight Hamilton, assistant vice president of Affirmative Action at Grand Valley State University. “They face unique challenges and are more prone to leave the university before graduating. Title IX is intended to help address those challenges.”
According to Title IX, pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy and recovery time must be treated like any other temporary disability by the institution. Hamilton said the legislation ensures students won’t be hurt academically because of their pregnancy.
“Title IX requires a school to excuse a student’s absences due to pregnancy or related conditions, including recovery from childbirth, for as long as the student’s doctor deems the absences to be medically necessary,” Hamilton said. “Upon return, the student must be given the opportunity to make up for any credits or points lost because of her absence.”
Since the legislation passed, Hamilton hasn’t had a problem with faculty members not being willing to accommodate students.
“As more faculty become aware of our legal obligations under Title IX, they have been largely supportive,” Hamilton said.
However, one of the problems he has seen is faculty not knowing the full extent of the legislation. Students needing help with making faculty aware of their condition or needing additional support when returning can contact Hamilton or Disability Support Resources.
“DSR is better equipped to protect students’ privacy and will provide an accommodation form for faculty,” Hamilton said.
Jo Ann Wassenaar, associate director of the Women’s Center at GVSU, said that equal treatment of athletic teams is a problem the legislation also addresses.
No athlete can be discriminated against on the basis of sex in any intercollegiate, club or intramural teams and institutions shouldn’t have a team for one sex without also having a team for the other sex. When there are separate teams for different sexes, both teams must be given equal treatment by the athletic director of the institution.
“Before Title IX, women didn’t have the same access for collegiate-level sports,” Wassenaar said. “Since its inception, Title IX has ensured equal access to scholarships in sports for women.”
For more information, see http://www.gvsu.edu/inclusion/.