Protecting Pregnant Athletes

It’s not often that you hear the words “pregnant” and “athlete” in the same sentence. In 2007 ESPN aired a documentary about this “underground topic,” revealing the difficulties pregnant athletes face. (see http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/news/story?id=2865230) For many years, the challenges of pregnant athletes had been largely ignored, and in unfortunate cases, even made worse by a lack of support on college campuses on the part of both coaches and administration. Many student athletes with an unintended pregnancy feared the loss of their athletic scholarship which allowed them to pursue further education. And for good reason. Before recently, Title IX prohibited discrimination based on gender, but there was no policy on discrimination based on pregnancy. Countless stories showed that indeed athletes lost scholarships, were ignored by coaches, and were uninvited back to the team as a result of their choice to have their baby. Student athletes must sign a contract detailing the relationship between the university and the student when they are on scholarship, and some contracts even made a student promise to not get pregnant with the threat of losing her scholarship.

We have come a long way since 2007, and the  protection now offered to pregnant student athletes is a cause for celebration! Title IX and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Letter now protect student athletes against discrimination or loss of scholarship, and also details that she can continue to play until medically unsafe (determined by the athlete and her physician, not the coach), and that she may return to the team once safe to do so. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which had long been silent on this issue, changed its Division I rules after ESPN’s documentary to explicitly prohibit the pulling of a scholarship on the basis of pregnancy. It even has a policy and resource book to address pregnant athletes: “Pregnant and Parenting Student-Athletes” (http://www.nacua.org/documents/NCAAParentingHandbook.pdf) . The status quo has changed and continues to change.

Pregnancy can alter the course of a career, whether athletic or educational, but it does not have to cause the end of either. Now, “pregnant athlete” is becoming less of an oxymoron. Colleges and universities are creating and changing policies to reflect support for women who refuse to choose between their baby and their scholarship. This is the same protection that is extended towards athletes who get injured. Administrations are realizing how important it is to protect pregnant athletes from the unjust discrimination and/or loss of scholarships as a result of a life-giving choice. Athletes by their very nature are devoted to strengthening their bodies and minds, and conditioning themselves to never give up. When a college student athlete becomes pregnant, why would anyone be surprised at her determination to give birth to her baby with the intent to continue schooling and to return to her sports team? Pregnancy may change a woman’s body, but it doesn’t change her love for the game, and it certainly shouldn’t change her opportunity to continue her education.

If you or a woman athlete you know is being discriminated against because of a pregnancy, know that you are protected, and do not have to stand for it. Talk to your Title IX coordinator or call the Alliance Defense Fund to defend your case.

http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlg/vol312/323-366.pdf

Baby Changing Stations Play an Important Role on College Campus

A Guest Post by BabyChangingStation.com.  

An important economic and cultural shift began in the United States in the late 1970s, which is that the dual-income model started replacing the traditional single-income model. In the old single-income era, the man in the household was the breadwinner who provided for the family financially while the woman was the homemaker who reared the children. Women would gradually enter the labor force to provide an additional layer of financial security and stability for their families. This is when the nation entered the dual-income era.

One of the most important inventions that was born during this era was the diaper deck, also known as the baby changing station. As women became more on-the-go, they realized that it was necessary to change their baby’s diapers in public places and establishments, which can be a challenging task. The Koala Kare Baby Changing Station would make its debut in 1988. A baby changing station is a small raised platform that allows a person to change a baby’s diaper. There are a variety of changing stations available, including horizontal, vertical and stainless steel stations. In addition to making their way into women’s restrooms, baby changing stations have increasingly entered into men’s restrooms. Among single parents living with their children, 18 percent are men, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Baby changing stations are also very important on college campuses and can really provide busy student mothers with a sense of peace and comfort. The college lifestyle can be stressful, demanding and hectic and busy student mothers can really save time if there are baby changing stations readily available throughout their campus. Pregnant college women need and deserve signs of hope and genuine support throughout a college campus. The presence of readily available baby changing stations throughout a college campus allows the institution to deliver some of this hope.

Claire Peters is a busy student mother of a young boy, web content coordinator for BabyChangingStation.com. Claire really appreciates the accessibility of baby changing stations throughout her campus, as it saves her time when changing her son’s diapers.

 

BabyChangingStation.com has generously offered to give our student groups discounts who install diaper decks on campus.