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Updates! SB0438 – Public Schools – Pregnant and Parenting Students – Policies and Reports – had an unanimous favorable vote (45-0) by the Senate, and was passed by the House (117-16)  HB0401 was passed by the House on third reading on April 7th (123-12) and by the Senate (45-0).   Next year, we plan to pursue the companion data collection bills introduced this session.
Lead bill sponsors: Delegate Michele Guyton and Senator Mary Washington

Thank you for your support of the parenting, expectant, and parenting student policy legislation (HB0401/SB0438)!  The governor can decide whether to sign them into law in the next 30 days, but know that his signature is not necessary, and that the bills will become law.  We usually invite folks to the statehouse for a bill signing ceremony, but with the pandemic, this will probably only be for the governor and legislators to attend this year.

The law goes into effect July 1, 2021, right before the start of the next academic year.  The Maryland State Department of Education will be working on a model policy, and we will be watching the school board sessions to see what the plans are for the development and adoption of the required policies in each school district.  We will reach out to MSDE to see if they would like any assistance, as well as the school districts.  We will also looking for any compliance issues as whatever policy they adopt must also be included in the student handbooks before the start of fall semester.

During the house committee hearing on the Senate version of the bill (which was amended to clarify the measures, and removed only the requirement for close proximity to a sink), there were questions from legislators wanting know what the data was on school drop-out/push-out rates.  We were happy to hear about this, and the bill sponsor, Senator Mary Washington, welcomed the questions and assured folks we would be back next year to mandate the collection of that data.

Thanks again for all your great to support this legislation.  I hope that in a few years, we can see a reduction in the number of Maryland students whose whereabouts were “unknown” (approx. 4,800 in 2018), increase graduate rates (the lowest in a while was report at 85.6% in 2019), and be able to follow the educational outcomes of parents under the age of 19 (approx. 2,600 in 2018).

Thank you to the tireless work of the bill sponsors, Delegate Michele Guyton, and Senator Mary Washington.  There was committee testimony by an anti-abortion group in opposition, and anti-abortion amendments during a House floor session.  Thank you to Senate Education. Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee Chair Paul Pinsky  and House Ways & Means Chair Anne Kaiser for keeping the committees on track and not distracted by the anti-abortion rhetoric. Thank you for the floor leadership of both Senator Washington and Chair Kaiser, and especially of Delegate Stephanie Smith, who successfully countered the anti-abortion amendments introduced on the House floor during the third reading of SB0438.  Thank you school staff, youth advocates, former parenting students, and allied organizations for your support through written and oral testimony.

Logo for Reproductive and Educational Equity for Maryland Youth

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 – In the House Ways & Means Committee – Hearing 1/27 at 1:30 p.m. SB0438 – In the Senate – First Reading Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs

HB0359 -Maryland Longitudinal Data System – Student Data – Pregnant and Parenting Students =- In the House Ways & Means Committee – Hearing 1/27 at 1:30 p.m.  SB0437 – In the Senate – First Reading Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs

HB0439 – Institute for Innovation and Implementation – Pregnant, Expecting, and Parenting Students – Data Collection and Report – In the House Ways & Means Committee – Hearing 2/3 at 1:30 p.m.  SB0470 – In the Senate – First Reading Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs

View our PEPS Fact Sheet Updated

We created a sign-on letter for orgs/groups/allies for HB0359/SB0437.

We created a sign-on letter for orgs/groups/allies. for HB0439/SB0470.

We are seeking individual testimony – oral and written – for HB0401/SB0438. There is also a sign-on letter for orgs/groups/allies.

Click on the links below to learn about the specifics of this issue, what the bills say, and how you can help.  Learn how to upload your written testimony and/or request to be considered to provide oral testimony via Zoom during the set bill hearing schedule here.

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”.

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We fight for a future that includes access to all reproductive health care no matter your zip code or employer. Maryland must lead the charge. Are you with us?