The Washington County Board of Education is drafting policy changes to better clarify that gender discrimination against pregnant female students is prohibited.
The same holds true for policies regarding students who are already parents.
“It is the policy of the board of education to prohibit gender discrimination of any type in educational programs and activities, including bias against pregnant and parenting students,” the policy states.
The policy was first adopted on Sept. 12, 2017. It is being revised now.
The purpose of the policy’s revisions is to “support the educational and parenting goals and improve the educational outcomes of pregnant and parenting students.”
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“It’s important to note that the motivation for updating the policy was to match the recently updated model policy from the State Board of Education,” school board member Pieter Bickford said in an email.
The U.S. Department of Education’s regulations also specify nondiscrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance, the Washington County school board’s policy states. The department prohibits disparate treatment of students based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of a pregnancy, or recovery from any of these conditions.
“The Washington County Board of Education is committed to providing equity and access for all students in a supportive school environment,” the policy states. “Pregnant and parenting students must be allowed to participate in all aspects of the educational program, including all academic, physical, and social components.
“Pregnant and parenting students must have access to a range of specific activities and policies that govern activities both in and outside of the classroom,” the policy states. “These activities include, but are not limited to, excused absences, make-up work, accommodations for instruction, lactation, and designated support staff in the school.”
The policy states that the school board will ensure training of Washington County Public School employees on the requirements.
The superintendent is to implement this policy that also addresses attendance and lawful absences, make up work, lactation, support for students, training, communication and violations of bullying or harassment.
The new policy changes still need final approval by the school board at a future business meeting.
The board of education is currently reviewing all of its policies and making changes where needed.
To comment on the policy email BOE@wcps.k12.md.us.
Sherry Greenfield is the Education Reporter, covering Washington County Public Schools and the Washington County Board of Education. Follow Sherry on Twitter at Sheina2018 or Instagram at beckmangreenfield.