MAJOR VICTORY for
PREGNANT and PARENTING STUDENTS in CALIFORNIA!!
Feminists for Life of America celebrates unanimous support by the California legislature for AB-809, which will greatly enhance support for pregnant and parenting students, especially for those attending graduate school. The legislation, which was led to victory by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, has been signed into law by the governor.
“This pro-woman, pro-parent bill is exactly what Feminists for Life of America has been advocating on campus for decades,” said FFL President Serrin Foster. “One in five college students is a parent, and many are women of color who ricochet between school and work and never graduate. Women who do get their four-year degree often feel forced to leave before achieving their postgraduate degree when they become mothers. As we seek to address the feminization of poverty, addressing the unmet needs of mothers in school—who are doing all they can to get their degree and feed their family—is a priority. The impact of this legislation goes beyond California. This bill, which addresses so many concerns of women on campus, is now a model for the country.”
This bill requires public postsecondary institutions to post on each institution’s website and to provide to an expectant parent, through on-campus health clinics, notification of protections under Title IX for pregnant and parenting students.
Existing law authorizes public postsecondary institutions to establish and maintain child development programs on or near their campuses. This bill also encourages child development programs established by the California Community Colleges, the California State University, and the University of California to give specified priority to children of students who are single parents and who meet specified income requirements.
Furthermore, each of the following requirements applies to postsecondary educational institutions in California:
(1) A postsecondary educational institution, including the faculty, staff, or other employees of the institution, shall not require a graduate student to take a leave of absence, withdraw from the graduate program, or limit the student’s graduate studies solely due to pregnancy or pregnancy-related issues.
(2) A postsecondary educational institution, including the faculty, staff, or other employees of the institution, shall reasonably accommodate pregnant graduate students so they may complete their graduate courses of study and research. Reasonable accommodation shall include excusing absences that are medically necessary, as required under Title IX.
(3) A graduate student who chooses to take a leave of absence because the graduate student is pregnant or has recently given birth shall be allowed a period to prepare for and take preliminary and qualifying examinations and an extension of at least 12 months toward normative time to degree while in candidacy for a graduate degree, unless a longer extension is medically necessary.
(4) A graduate student who is not the birthparent and who chooses to take a leave of absence because of the birth of the student’s child shall be allowed a period to prepare for and take preliminary and qualifying examinations, and an extension of at least one month toward normative time to degree while in candidacy for a graduate degree.
(5) An enrolled graduate student in good academic standing who chooses to take a leave of absence because the student is pregnant or has recently given birth shall return to the student program in good academic standing.
(6) An enrolled graduate student in good academic standing who is not the birthparent and who chooses to take a leave of absence because of the birth of the student’s child shall return to the student’s program in good academic standing.
(7) Each postsecondary educational institution shall have a written policy for graduate students on pregnancy discrimination and procedures for addressing pregnancy discrimination complaints under Title IX. A copy of this policy shall be made available to faculty, staff, and employees in their required training. This policy shall be made available to all graduate students attending orientation sessions at a postsecondary educational institution.
(8) Each public postsecondary educational institution shall notify pregnant and parenting students of the protections provided by Title IX through prominently posting a notice of the Title IX protections on the institution’s website.
(9) Each public postsecondary educational institution with an on-campus medical center shall provide notice of the protections provided by Title IX through the medical center to a student who requests information regarding policies or protections for students with children or pregnant students.
The fact sheet provided by Assemblymember Santiago on AB-809 cites FFL’s own research and recommendations. On March 8, 2018, International Women’s Day, FFL released our “Report on Resources and Support for Pregnant and Parenting Students at Highest Risk of Dropping Out Attending California State Colleges and Universities” by FFL President Serrin Foster and Kellan Monroe, which informed the bill. FFL’s full report on California State Colleges and Universities (including a link to individual school costs as of spring 2018) is available here.
Based on two decades of experience working with administrators, students, and community leaders, Ms. Foster also authored FFL’s Recommendations for Best Practices to Serve Pregnant and Parenting Students to help for administrators.
“Feminists for Life stands ready to assist schools across the country now—as well as legislators in other states who want to support pregnant and parenting students, including birthmothers and adoptive parents,” said Foster, who moderated the first Pregnancy Resource ForumSM at Georgetown in January 1997 and will moderate the 24th annual event this October. “We encourage students and administrators to take FFL’s Pregnant and Parenting Resource SurveySM to help evaluate their campus.” This document has evolved over two decades of leading FFL Pregnancy and Parenting Resource ForumsSM across the country and shared with campuses and other national and state organizations. Student parents and counselors are also encouraged to link to our online resource WomenDeserveBetter.com to help women Work, Learn, Live, and Love better now.
To invite a moderator to lead an FFL Pregnancy and Parenting Resource Forum on your campus, or to book an interview with Ms. Foster regarding our report, resources and support, or other issues, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your support would be appreciated as we kick off this truly historic school year.
If you are interested in hosting an FFL Speaker for a pregnancy resource center, right-to-life, or diocesan respect life event, please contact us now. We are getting booked up fast!