The Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH) envisions a world where all young people have the resources, information, and education they need to thrive. Across the United States, Federal law TITLE IX, prohibits any discrimination or harassment towards pregnant or parenting students, including allowing them to go to the bathroom according to their own needs; make up any missed work; and stay at their own schools.
Currently, Chicago Public Schools does not outline explicit Title IX protections for pregnant and parenting youth (PPY). This must change.
I stand with ICAH and am committed to making the promise of Title IX a reality for all PPY in Chicago, and throughout the state of Illinois.
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Based on the experience and recommendations of PPY and adult professionals from school, family, and healthcare systems, who co-wrote the policy, ICAH's proposed Model District Title IX Policy outlines support above what is included in federal law and includes the following:
-- Gender inclusive language to support students of any gender and sexual identity who are pregnant and parenting. Similarly, we use "chestfeeding/breastfeeding" language to acknowledge all of the diverse gender identities and bodies of PPY.
-- Recommends all teachers and staff are required to be informed about the Title IX rights of PPY. We hope this helps the whole school community has the knowledge and resources to ensure PPY receive the education they deserve.
-- Highlights the need for PPY to use excused absences when their child is sick, in addition to upholding HB2369, the 2018 law that mandates that schools provide a private space other than a bathroom for PPY to pump breast milk while at school.
-- Incorporates "partner(s)" as a term for this document. We envision that this policy will apply to the variety of families that are a supportive resource to PPY as well as their partner(s). We suggest that partner(s) of PPY who are also students should also receive the same rights and privileges as PPY, especially if they serve as caretakers.
-- Acknowledges that PPY students who have experienced sexual, dating, domestic or intimate partner violence or trauma and choose to continue their education as a PPY are additionally protected and entitled to an equitable education under Title IX.
-- Highlights PPY who have different learning needs and differences in ability.
-- Proposes that each school assign the role of pregnant and parenting student liaison (PPSL) to a school staff person, who will embody and uphold social justice and social work values to best support PPY. The PPSL would also be responsible for managing a PPY Student Support Team, which will serve to best advocate for the needs of the PPY student.
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I support ICAH's proposed model policy. Add my name to the list of those who believe pregnant and parenting young people should receive the resources and supports necessary to succeed academically.