According to a new report, Young Women Speak Out!, pregnant and parenting young Latinas face systemic discrimination in educational institutions, lack access to equal educational opportunities and experience a dearth of social supports in their communities.
In an exclusive for RH Reality Check, Rocio Cordoba, co-founder and Executive Director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, writes that in key regions of California, pregnant and parenting youth experience persistent discrimination and bias from teachers and school officials. The findings, outlined in the new report, come from extensive focus group and survey research conducted by CRLJ.
Discrimination against pregnant or parenting students includes "pressure to transfer out of comprehensive high schools into alternative programs and being relegated to substandard instruction, despite federal and state legal protections."
One young woman shared her own experience: "I had to leave; my principal or superintendent told me 'you can't stay here while you are pregnant. You have to go to another school, because the pregnant school is required for pregnant people." Other focus group participants stated that, even though they weren't forced to leave their schools, they were ostracized within their institutions by being "kept in one corner of the school."
At the same time, Latina youth reported to CLRJ a lack of social supports in schools and their communities for continuing their education and accessing positive opportunities. "Maybe if I would have been more exposed to colleges and stuff like that at a young age, maybe it would have motivated me to do good in school," reflected one young woman.
"We also learned that young people aren't receiving the full information and resources they need to make well-informed decisions about their health and lives," writes Cordoba. Even in a progressive state like California, where longstanding policies require comprehensive, medically-accurate instruction by schools that choose to teach sex ed, young people are still at risk of receiving biased and inadequate information.
"If we really want to support young people, particularly the most disenfranchised youth, we need to start by examining their realities and ensuring that our policies are promoting their health and educational opportunities," says Cordoba. "Keeping them in the dark about critical information they need, then blaming them for the consequences, is not the answer. And relegating young women who are pregnant to a corner of the school -- or to another school altogether – is not only counter to civil rights laws, it is a shocking denial of young people's dignity.""Separate and uninformed has never been equal. Not then, not now. Not ever."
For more information: Jodi Jacobson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 301-257-7897
|PO Box 19281 | Boulder, CO 80308 US|