School Policy Expelling Pregnant Teens is Sexist and Unconstitutional

By Susan Milligan

Traditionalists complain that high school students don't read enough of the classics anymore-Shakespeare, for example, or those books many of us arguably didn't fully appreciate as teenagers but which are important to study to expand the mind and the knowledge of that era in history.

We needn't worry or wonder if students at Delhi Charter School in northern Louisiana are reading The Scarlett Letter. They're living it.

The school, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (which is considering a lawsuit) has a "student pregnancy policy" which not only bans pregnant students from school, but requires girls suspected of being pregnant to take a pregnancy test.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Catholic contraception controversy.]

The ACLU says this rule is unconstitutional, since it violates equal protection laws (boys who impregnated girls would not be banned from school, and it also violates Title IX, which says pregnant students cannot be subject to discrimination). But there are other concerns, as well. What is the long-term good accomplished by making it harder for a pregnant girl to get an education? Would the community prefer that she end up with a baby, uneducated, and on welfare?

[Read the U.S. News debate: Is There a Republican War on Women?]

The school's former principle, Steve Gaharan, says it best, telling the AP:

The system used at Delhi Charter School is quite unusual and punishing to the young lady; however the young man can strut along, continue in school and compete in or participate in all extracurricular activities. However, the pregnant young lady is not only excluded from all of these activities, but also must be home-schooled instead of having the privilege of attending school.

The school is revisiting the policy, so a lawsuit may not be necessary. Perhaps they could just ask the expectant girls to wear a red "P" on their lapels. The boys, for that matter, could sport one on their trousers.