[EDIT: This just in from the morning news … Delhi school is changing the policy outlined below. Apparently when they heard that they were going to be slapped with a lawsuit, they capitulated. Gee, if only we could change the content of school textbooks that come out of Texas so easily.]
Not satisfied with just using taxpayer money to fund such travesties like the Accelerated Christian “Education” program that claims evolution is false and the Loch Ness Monster is alive and well, it would seem that public funding is also being sent to one charter school in particular that is taking the tried and true Christian approach of slut-shaming to tackle teen pregnancy.
Delhi Charter School, in Delhi, Louisiana, has come under fire for its policy that campaigners say is ‘clearly illegal under federal laws’. Under the new rules, a teacher can ‘require’ a student to have a test if they suspect she could be pregnant.
… which could pretty much be anyone they feel like culling from the herd if they want to “catch” them before about 12 weeks. This kind of sounds like it could very easily turn into a witch hunt. Seriously, all you have to do is act under “reasonable cause” that a particular girl may have engaged in sexual activity, but just isn’t far enough along to show yet. To the OBGYN with you!
Here’s a copy of the relevant part of the school policy:
You’ll notice the Catch-22. If you’re suspected of being pregnant – even if there’s no reason – you will be treated as if you are until you submit to a pregnancy test to prove your “innocence”. That means you are immediately kicked off campus and forced to go through homeschooling instead. If that doesn’t work they just dump you entirely. Whether they have to wear a scarlet letter “A” on their clothing for the rest of their days remains to be seen. Here’s one of my favorite parts of the policy:
Delhi Charter School has established an environment whereby the conduct of its students must be in keeping with the school’s goals and objectives relative to character development.’
Nothing says more about the character of a school than kicking a girl off campus for getting pregnant. They would much rather shame, embarrass, and punish these girls – who clearly didn’t get pregnant on their own – by making the continuing of their education as difficult as possible. To what end? Well, as long as they disappear so the faculty, staff, and administrators can pretend they don’t exist anymore, I doubt they care. Sweep them under the rug.
The American Civil Liberties Union has blasted the 600-student school, with executive director Marjorie Esman saying: ‘The pregnancy policy violates the rights of every girl at Delhi Charter School. ‘Every girl is at risk of being subject to intrusive medical testing, and possibly forced out of school, for reasons that have nothing to do with her education.’
She said the school’s new rules ‘violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clauses of the U.S. constitution’.
That federal law prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities, and explicitly mandates that schools cannot exclude any student from an education programme or activity.
Again, I don’t think they care. Schools like these – perhaps not explicitly Christian but having Christian affiliation at least – are being run by individuals who feel that the implementation of their morality and control over the student body takes precedence over their education and actual well being. Why else would they abandon those girls who clearly would have the greatest need for additional support and educational assistance? Offering home schooling as an option to allow them greater flexibility would be one thing. Forcing them into it just to get them off campus is another. Treating them as if they were the only ones involved in their pregnancy is just typical of this kind of situation. It happens a lot.
To their credit, the Louisiana State Department of Education is fighting alongside the ACLU to get the school to change their policy.
I also read a related article on the Richard Dawkins Foundation website. The author of the piece had a personal connection to this story:
… Does this kind of shaming stop teen pregnancies and build stronger, better educated communities? No. I know because I was a teen mom at 17, and now I work with teen moms every day as the Teen Parent Ambassador Coordinator for Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston.
7 years ago, I told teachers and administrators at my high school I was pregnant, thinking they’d want to help me graduate and build a future for myself and my child. Instead, they made me feel ashamed and unwelcome, and made it almost impossible for me to attend classes, jeopardizing my education and my future.