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Pregnant and Parenting Student Rights

Pregnant and Parenting Student Rights

  • Title IX specifically prohibits discrimination against a student based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from any of these conditions.
  • Under Title IX, it is illegal for schools to exclude a pregnant student from participating in any of an educational program. Schools may implement special instructional programs or classes for a pregnant student, but participation must be completely voluntary on the part of the student, and the programs and classes must be comparable to those offered to other students.
  • Schools must excuse a student’s absences because of pregnancy or childbirth for as long as the student’s doctor deems the absences medically necessary. When a student returns to school, they must be allowed to return to the same academic and extracurricular status as before their medical leave began.
  • Any special services provided to students who have temporary medical conditions must also be provided to a pregnant student.

Frequently Asked Questions

May a college (professor, staff member, etc.) ask or require a pregnant student to obtain a doctor’s note before allowing them to attend school? What if this request is because its late in the pregnancy and/or the college is worried about the student’s health or safety?

No. Colleges (professors, staff members, or otherwise employed by the institution) cannot require a pregnant student to produce a doctor’s note in order to stay in school or participate in activities, unless the same requirement to obtain a doctor’s note applies to all students being treated by a doctor.

Does a college have to excuse a student’s absences due to pregnancy or childbirth?

Yes. Title IX requires a college 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. When the student returns to college, they must be reinstated to the status they held when the leave began, which should include giving them the opportunity to make up any work missed. A college may offer the student alternatives to making up missed work, such as a retaking a semester, taking part in an online course, or allowing additional time in a program to continue at the same pace and finish at a later date, especially after longer periods of leave.

Does a pregnant student have the right to participate in co-curricular or off campus opportunities sponsored by the College?

Yes. The college must allow pregnant students to continue participating in off-campus programs and any programs sponsored by the institution. For example, if a program at the College presents opportunities for an internship, the college cannot deny the pregnant student participation based on their pregnancy. In addition, a college cannot require a doctor’s note for this participation, unless the college requires one for all students who have a medical condition that requires treatment by the doctor.

May a faculty member require that students disclose a pregnancy to them? What if the student appears visibly pregnant, has not disclosed the pregnancy, and the professor is concerned about the student’s health and well-being and wants to make sure they are able to complete the work for the course?

No. The college must leave it up to the student to decide what is disclosed. While the college must offer the student rights should they disclose, no one can force a student to share the status of their pregnancy. In addition, the college must leave it up to the student and their doctor to decide whether to take time off, miss classes, when to return after giving birth, etc. even if the faculty member is concerned for the health and well-being of the student.

What if some professors have their own policies about class attendance and make-up work?

Colleges and Universities must ensure that the policies and practices of individual professors do not discriminate against pregnant students. For example,

  • Professors may not refuse to allow a student to submit work after a deadline that they missed because of absences due to pregnancy or childbirth.
  • If the grading process is based in part on class attendance or participation, the student should be allowed to earn the credits they missed so that they can be reinstated to the status they had before the leave.

Lactation/Mothers' Rooms

Please be advised that nursing mothers seeking to express breast milk and/or pump are welcome to use the Working Mother’s Rooms available in the following locations:

  • West Boylston Street Second floor RM 220A1 See the staff in HR for the Key
  • Federal Street 115D ask for a key at the desk

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Liz Woods, Dean for Compliance and Education Title IX at 508.854.2791 or lwoods [at] qcc.mass.edu