Pregnant Student Denied of Support, Harassed by Instructor at Hinds Community College


Pregnancy discrimination in educational settings continues to be a pressing issue, as highlighted by a recent case at Hinds Community College in Mississippi.

A pregnant student whose identity has not been disclosed faced numerous challenges and violations of her rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The student's experience sheds light on the importance of supporting pregnant students and ensuring they are not unfairly disadvantaged in their pursuit of education.

Pregnant Student Denied Support, Harassed by Instructor at Hinds Community College

(Photo : UNSPLASH / Casey Olsen)

Denial of Supports and Accommodations

The student's ordeal began when she requested flexibility to leave a class early for a doctor's appointment related to her pregnancy. Instead of accommodating her request, college officials told her to withdraw from the semester. This lack of flexibility and support is a clear violation of Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, including pregnancy, in educational programs and activities.

Furthermore, the student faced additional challenges due to her pregnancy, including difficulties finding time and a suitable place to pump breast milk. Despite requesting breaks for this purpose, she often had to resort to pumping in a restroom, which is not only unsanitary but also reflects a lack of consideration for her needs as a new mother.

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Harassment and Hostile Environment

The student also endured harassment from her instructor, who made derogatory comments about her unborn child and questioned her parenting decisions. This behavior created a hostile environment that made it difficult for the student to focus on her studies and complete her program. The instructor's actions were inappropriate and contributed to the student's feelings of discouragement and humiliation.

Despite the student's complaints, college officials did not address the harassment until the instructor was fired. However, even after the student filed a Title IX complaint, the college failed to provide any remedy for the effects of the harassment, further exacerbating the student's distress.

OCR Investigation and Resolution

The Education Department's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) investigated the student's complaint and found several violations of Title IX. As a result, Hinds Community College has agreed to reimburse the student for the total cost of tuition and any related mandatory expenses for the final semester. The college has also committed to revising its policies and training its employees to support pregnant students.

OCR's findings also revealed systemic issues at the college, including a lack of processes to respond to pregnant students' requests and a failure to consider pregnancy or related conditions as Title IX matters. Additionally, the college did not seem to consider whether the student's pregnancy had caused a temporary disability, which would have qualified her for academic adjustments under federal law.

The Importance of Addressing Pregnancy Discrimination

This case underscores the importance of addressing pregnancy discrimination in educational settings and ensuring that pregnant students receive the support and accommodations they need to succeed. Academic institutions must have policies and procedures in place to protect the rights of pregnant students and ensure they are not unfairly disadvantaged due to their pregnancy.

Furthermore, colleges and universities must train their employees on how to support pregnant students and respond to their requests appropriately. By upholding Title IX rights and supporting pregnant students, educational institutions can create a more inclusive and equitable learning environment for all students.

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