What are the issues?
Realizing education goals is an essential component to reproductive justice, allowing people to choose if, when, and how they may parent. Education is an important factor in achieving economic security, allowing individuals to parent with dignity, in safety, and in good health. However, many youth who are pregnant, expectant, and parenting may not have the resources to navigate young parenthood alone,. School or community resources may provide critical assistance towards realizing both family formation and educational goals.
Preliminary research reveals limited support systems for pregnant, expectant, and parenting students in Maryland. Some schools include on-site childcare services, like those at Ben Franklin High School (Baltimore) and The Teenage Parenting and Childcare program at Wilde Lake High School (Howard County). Other programs, such as the Washington County Family Center, utilize referral and transportation services in addition to intervention specialists to prevent school push-out and drop-out. However, many counties across Maryland lack accommodations like these, as well as supportive services within schools to help these students connect them to existing resources in their communities to help them stay in school and on track to graduate.
It is imperative that we support these young people in their academic pursuits and give them the resources needed to raise their own healthy families; yet, to understand what accommodations are needed, the educational outcomes and all barriers to education for these students must be better understood. Each student that has made the decision to parent should still have the right to the same rigorous education as their non-parenting peers. No student should be coerced into leaving school or pushed to attend a different school because they experienced lack of needed supports, harassment, and/or discrimination for becoming pregnant or choosing to parent.
What legislation is being considered by the 2021 Maryland General Assembly that would better protect and advance the rights of these youth?
In 2017, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland led advocacy efforts to pass the second bill in the nation to clarify and establish excused absences for pregnant and parenting students for medical and legal reasons, to prevent youth from being falsely labeled as truant and prevent school push-out by non-supportive school administrators and faculty.
Through our campaign, Reproductive and Educational Equity for Maryland Youth, we are seeking to pass three bills:
HB0401 – Public Schools – Pregnant and Parenting Students – Policies and Reports
HB0359 -Maryland Longitudinal Data System – Student Data – Pregnant and Parenting Students
HB0439 – Institute for Innovation and Implementation – Pregnant, Expecting, and Parenting Students – Data Collection and Report
View our PEPS Fact Sheet Updated
We created a sign-on letter for orgs/groups/allies for HB0359
We created a sign-on letter for orgs/groups/allies. for HB0439.
We are seeking individual testimony – oral and written – for HB0401.
Read below to find out why these are so important and how you can demonstrate support!
What to learn more? Check out our online guide about “The Rights of Pregnant Youth in Maryland”.