Equal education opportunities for pregnant and parenting students

The first test I took in dental school was a pregnancy test. 

I spent the first two semesters pregnant and gave birth to my daughter during finals week in the spring of 2020. While my classmates took a physiology final, I was in a labor and delivery room. 

I planned my maternity leave based on the parental leave policy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry. However, not all schools have a parental leave policy. Without a clear policy, soon-to-be parents don’t know how to proceed.

To continue their studies, students will need to adjust how, when or where they complete their academic work during the perinatal and postpartum period.

University parental leave benefits often don’t apply to student parents since they are not school employees. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to eligible employees at most universities, but there is a gray area for how it applies to students. Thankfully, Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972 protects the parental rights of students during their educational programs.

Read the rest of this article in the August issue of Contour magazine, focused on serving vulnerable populations.

~ Katelyn Smith, Nebraska ‘23, ASDA District 8 Editor & Chief

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