In high schools, we are increasing the scope of sexual and reproductive healthcare in high school-based health centers (SBHCs), improving sex education curriculum to be evidence-based and inclusive of all gender identities and sexual orientations, and protecting the rights of pregnant and parenting students so they may realize their family formation and educational goals. We are preparing to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to research the methods of sex education utilized in all 24 counties to better understand the prominence of different forms of sex education taught in Maryland public schools. We will also be releasing a report, Could We Do More? The Argument for Inclusive Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare in School-Based Health Centers, in the near future.
Our policy research led to the 2017 passage of the second bill in the nation (HB616) to clarify and define excused absences for pregnant and parenting public school students in the effort to stop Title IX violations by faculty and administrators. We are now preparing to ask Maryland students if they were made aware of this legislation and to also identify other barriers to their success as pregnant or parenting students. If you are a pregnant or parenting student, know any pregnant or parenting students, or would like to share this survey to your social media accounts, please use this link. We will be collecting responses through the duration of summer 2018 and appreciate all contributions. This research will inform our future policy work as we continue to advocate for reproductive healthcare and reproductive freedom for all young people. A new resource, The Rights of Pregnant Youth in Maryland, and a report, Could We Do More?, will also be published this year.
In colleges, we are increasing the scope of sexual and reproductive healthcare in college-based health and wellness centers, helping students gain more timely access to emergency contraception on-campus, and supporting pregnant and parenting students so they may realize their family formation and education goals. Our policy research and organizing led to the 2017 introduction of the first statewide bill in the nation requiring public universities to offer students 24/7 access to over-the-counter emergency contraception (EC). Through a successful campaign, students and staff helped University of Maryland – College Park to become the first campus in the state to offer EC at their 24-hour convenience stores this fall. We anticipate advocating for the same legislation during the 2018 Maryland General Assembly. You can view a map of Maryland Universities in relation to nearby pharmacies that dispense over-the-counter emergency contraception and the ease in which students can access EC at the pharmacies here.
Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), in addition to targeting vulnerable community members in Maryland, also target local university students. We recently identified the proximity of these fake health centers to local universities and in the future will be looking into the methods they use to target unsuspecting university students. We are interested in working with any local university students who would like to hold a public forum to discuss CPCs in their college communities. Contact our Policy Research Intern Julia at Julia@prochoicemd.org, or contact our office at (301)-565-5154 if interested in discussing future opportunities for collaboration.