Creative Commons

Family Leave Laws Need to Include Teen Student Parents

February 19, 2015

Sweeping federal family leave legislation, an economic issue that gained new life when President Obama acknowledged its significance during this year’s State of the Union address, has both short- and long-term benefits for individuals, families, and society as a whole. Those benefits include better health outcomes for both parents and children.

Conversations about the need for more comprehensive maternity leave policies, however, rarely seem to include solutions to the issues facing pregnant and parenting students, despite the fact that they are at great risk of staying in poverty because of how little support teen parents receive from the people in their communities and their lives.

For example, even though pregnant and parenting teens have the right to equal educational opportunity under Title IX, which allows for excused absences and medical leave during a pregnancy, among other things, many students are unaware of their rights, school faculty and staff do not inform them of those rights, and schools do a poor job of establishing comprehensive policies that go beyond addressing the on-paper needs of students who are pregnant or parenting.


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