Consider taking active steps to protect and support pregnant student-athletes on your campus. Below are some ideas your pro-life group can use in order to change the culture on campus:
1) Implement a ‘Red-shirt’ policy
- Feminists For Life advocated a common policy in college athletics which allows a student-athlete to take a medical leave of absence from participating in a sport while retaining both her scholarship and athletic eligibility.
- Your group can effectively lobby an administration to apply the red-shirt policy to pregnant athletes. Many administrators have not thought of extending the policy, but this is an idea that can effectively change the culture on campus.
2) Dialogue with school administration
- Find out whether any policy on pregnant and parenting athletes exist and then schedule meetings with school administration and the Athletic Director
- Know that under Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendment, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
- Taking away a scholarship is a blatant discrimination against a woman simply because she is pregnant.
3) Establish a scholarship
- Establishing a scholarship for pregnant/parenting students on campus can act as a safety net for pregnant/parenting students and those student-athletes who willingly choose not to continue with their athletic career (and in turn, lose their scholarship) due to pregnancy.
4) Host an open forum
- Bring the issues concerning pregnant/parenting students to the attention of the Athletic Department, the Student Government, and/or university administration.
- Simply hosting a forum or informational session on the issue could raise awareness and begin significant dialogue among university administration and staff.
- Invite coaches, athletes, and the athletic staff to attend.
- Review frequently asked Title IX questions (provided by the NCAA).
- If possible, ask pregnant/parenting student-athletes to testify about their experiences.
Know the Rules
The NCAA has provided the following reminder regarding Title IX Rights and pregnant student athletes:
“Title IX guarantees equal educational opportunity to pregnant and parenting students. This means that student-athletes cannot be discriminated against in the event of their pregnancy, childbirth, conditions related to pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy or recovery there from, or parental or marital status; and they must be offered reinstatement to the same position after pregnancy as they held before the onset of pregnancy. Some actions that may be permissible under NCAA rules are impermissible under Title IX. Institutions should carefully monitor precedent regarding athletics financial aid renewal, access to athletics benefits and treatment issues. Student-athletes who are pregnant should be treated like any other student-athlete with a temporary disability. For example, if the institution regularly provides athletics aid, tutoring, athletics trainer and team physician support, insurance or access to assistance or opportunity funds to a student-athlete while he rehabilitates from an injury, the pregnant student-athlete should not be excluded from such benefits. Institutions should make sure student-athletes understand the law and institutional policy as part of the normal orientation or team meeting agenda.”
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Resources for Your Athletics Outreach
- NCAA Title IX Resource Center
- NCAA Title IX Frequently Asked Questions
- NCAA Pregnancy Toolkit: Pregnant and Parenting Student-Athletes Resources and Model Policies
- 2012 NCAA Convention Video, “Title IX: The Latest Developments and Trends”