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Troy University must change its policies to accommodate pregnant students

The U.S. Department of Education announces resolution of pregnancy discrimination investigation of Troy University in Alabama

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The Biden Administration introduced new regulations on Title IX. At the time, the draft by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona stated that “the current regulations should be amended to provide greater clarity regarding the scope of sex discrimination, including recipients’ obligations not to discriminate based on sex stereotypes, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”

The draft also added that “the Department proposes that the current regulations could better account for the variety of education programs or activities covered by Title IX, which include recipients’ education programs or activities serving students in elementary schools, secondary schools, and postsecondary institutions.” 

The new rule under Cardona’s draft would give higher education institutions the purview to decide whether or not to hold a judiciary-style hearing—something former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos mandated. 

Higher ED Dive reported, “A 2020 decision in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld, for example, that colleges must host the hearings to maintain fairness in sexual misconduct proceedings. The appeals court covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the Virgin Islands.” 

In 2020, a Troy University student filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) after the institution failed to provide proper accommodations for her pregnancy. OCR has determined that the student notified the university of the accommodations needed—a classroom desk to fit her growing body and never received it. 

“She was also penalized in a class for poor attendance and received a failing grade in another class because she was denied the ability to make up work,” the Department of Education reports

OCR’s investigation identified that the Title IX did not intervene after being notified by a student or addressed a professor’s concern on how to proceed with the situation. 

A resolution has been reached Troy University commits to properly training faculty and staff, provide more information about Title IX rights of pregnant students, and policies on how to address requests. 

The resolution agreement is available here.

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