Pregnancy and Childbirth
Guidelines for Providing Academic and Program Adjustments to Students
Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs. This means that Seminole State College must treat pregnant students the same as their non-pregnant classmates and must treat absences related to pregnancy and childbirth as the College would treat any medical absence. Without a specific leave-of-absence policy, the College follows the Title IX guideline that pregnancy and medical recovery support a leave of absence for a period prescribed by the student’s physician. The College then is responsible for reinstating the student to the status she held when the leave began.
Pregnant students are responsible for disclosing medical needs (if any) to the instructor1 of classes in which they are enrolled. Note: Pregnancy is not a disability, and there is no requirement for students to disclose or discuss that status. Students may have no need to request academic adjustments or they may choose not to make such requests. It is not appropriate for instructors to initiate such discussions.
Instructors are responsible for implementing the College’s compliance commitment to Title IX.2 There are many examples of the three basic guidelines below. Faculty members should consider representing the College by:
- Discussing with the student how her pregnancy relates to the class requirements, when the student approaches the instructor.
- Applying the same attendance policy to pregnant students as applied to other students with temporary conditions, unless medical documentation explains that the absence is based on pregnancy or childbirth.3 In that case, the College must consider it an excused absence. Instructors must take steps to assist students in progressing to completion of the class from whatever times they were absent based on medical reasons related to pregnancy and childbirth.
- Extending deadlines, offering alternate assignments, assigning a grade of “Incomplete,” or taking other steps to ensure that pregnant students can complete the coursework and maintain academic progress following childbirth and related medical restrictions.
1 “Instructor” refers to the generic “instructor of record,” not a specific rank or status.
3 This summary uses “pregnancy and childbirth” as the scope of this discussion; the College actually must apply this guidance to pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, and recovery from pregnancy.
College Procedure 3.0610, Student Attendance, provides details.
- A student who is pregnant brings the instructor a physician’s statement that she cannot touch the chemicals used in the class, even with gloved hands. The instructor should develop an alternative method for her to demonstrate her knowledge of the chemicals and their application as called for in the assignments. As examples, that might involve:
- The student remaining in an adjacent space, providing detailed, step-by-step directions to an individual who is pouring or measuring the chemicals for her to direct and observe.
- The student giving the directions to a lab partner via video-chat on laptops.
- The student writing a detailed set of directions (as if to a lab partner) in advance and writing her observations of a student lab team performing the day’s experiment that the class recorded on laptop for her later review.
- The student using a simulator or online system to complete the assignment.
An instructor’s attendance policy must be applied without regard to sex. If an instructor allows a male with bronchitis to make up tests missed during a two-week absence, the instructor must allow a female to make up tests missed during a two-week absence related to pregnancy or childbirth.
If an instructor’s policy lowers the grade after a certain number of absences, or impacts the student’s class participation grade for non-attendance, the policy usually cannot be applied to a student who is absent while experiencing medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.
- A student who is pregnant applies to a program that requires classroom learning and demonstration of practical skills. She discusses with the future instructor her phobia relating to injections and her reluctance to get them or give them. She requests exemptions from all assignments in the two-year program involving injections to herself, injections to fellow students, or demonstrations on patients, because she is pregnant. The instructor may treat her request as that of any other student who dislikes part of the curriculum. Pregnancy is unrelated to her request and the instructor may deny the request.
The College provides seating for all students registered for a class. In a particular classroom, the desk is fixed a certain distance from the attached seat back. Pregnant students attending class in that room may require a chair and table when they cannot access that type of seating. The building manager should arrange usable seating upon request, just as the College provides a desk without a chair for wheelchair users and movable seating for a student with a bulky spinal brace attending class in that room.
Special note: the College should not disclose anyone’s health condition or requests for special arrangements with signs on the seating. A sign may say Reserved, but should not include the individual’s name.
- A student-athlete who is pregnant may have no restriction, some restriction, or complete restriction on the ability to practice or play. The College must observe any notice of restrictions and not project or substitute judgment for her physician. Medical clearance to practice or play does not guarantee her a place in the starting lineup no matter where she played before pregnancy; the coaches make those decisions day-to-day in every sport.
For information about particular issues, please contact the Title IX Coordinator for the College, Barbara Coleman-Foster, 407.708.2373.
Equity and Diversity/Title IX Coordinator, 7. 11. 18, updated 7.6.19, 7.6.20, 7.23.21