The Department of Education released Title IX guidance Tuesday emphasizing colleges and universities must protect students who are pregnant, have a child or had an abortion.
The guidance is not new — language protecting pregnancy, childbirth and abortion has been included in Title IX since 1975. However, the move signals the Education Department will prioritize protections for employees and students who are pregnant or seeking abortions.
"The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights today released a resource designed to remind school communities, including students, faculty, families, and educators, that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects students and employees from discrimination based on pregnancy and related conditions," the Education Department said in a statement.
A fact sheet on the guidance says schools must prevent discrimination and exclusion, treat pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions as any other disability and make accommodations for medical leave. The 19th News first reported the guidance.
If students or employees feel their college or university is violating this guidance, the Education Department encourages them to report it through their school's grievance procedures. At ASU, that is the Office of University Rights & Responsibilities, which handles Title IX.
Title IX is the federal statute prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in publicly funded colleges and universities. It includes provisions protecting students and employees from sexual harassment, assault and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The guidance comes after Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. During remarks at a task force meeting Tuesday, President Joe Biden used Arizona's recently reinstated territorial abortion law as an example of the attack on reproductive rights across the country.
Since the territorial law went into effect, lawmakers — mostly Democrats and Attorney General Mark Brnovich — have asked Gov. Doug Ducey to call a special session of the Legislature to clarify lingering confusion in the state about which recently passed laws take precedence.
Despite the confusion at the state level, Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said his department is "fully committed" to enforcing pregnancy and abortion-related guidance at publicly funded colleges and universities.
Edited by Wyatt Myskow, Logan Stanley and Piper Hansen.
Reagan Priest is the politics editor, leading coverage of ASU’s relationship to Arizona’s political entities. She previously worked as a social justice reporter for Cronkite News and currently works as a digital production intern at The Arizona Republic.