One of the more fortunate aspects of living in this modern age of ours is that things like racism and sexism are nowhere nearly as apparent or pervasive as they were in the past. It’s strange to think that less than a century ago there was no civil rights movement, nor women’s suffrage. Females were routinely treated as second class citizens, and though it may be arguable how far we’ve actually come, one thing is certain: blatant sex discrimination is now relic of the past. Well, mostly anyway.
It’s very odd to see obvious discrimination nowadays, especially when it’s directed toward pregnant women by a school no less. But that’s exactly what’s going down in one Louisiana school. The Delhi Charter School recently adopted a policy requiring pregnant students to be removed from classrooms and be forced to either study at home or go to a different school. The policy would also require students suspected of being with child to take a pregnancy test.
Fortunately, Louisiana education officials have already begun the process to force the charter school to drop its discriminatory policy.
The story is surprising on a number of levels. First and foremost, it’s amazing that the school’s clearly prejudicial policy somehow made it through without seemingly anyone raising the fact that it was obviously unconstitutional. One of the school board members was even quoted as saying that he had no idea the policy was illegal.
When it comes to constitutional law, it’s usually quite rare for an issue to ever be clearly weighed in one direction or the other. But the Delhi Charter School’s new rule has somehow defied these odds by being clearly unconstitutional.
The reason is because under the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause, states are prohibited from discriminating against citizens based on race, sex, and illegitimacy (among other things). The only way for states to get away with gender based discrimination is if it can overcome the intermediate scrutiny test. The test basically requires the government actor to show that the discrimination is necessary to further an important government interest and is substantially related to the interest.
In case you’re wondering why Louisiana education officials can tell a charter school what to do, it’s because the school receives a large portion of its funding from the state. Therefore, it’s a government actor and required to follow the Constitution.
More importantly though, the reason the Delhi Charter School’s policy is unconstitutional is because it specifically targets pregnant people. And last time science checked, only women can get pregnant. While the school could argue that the policy is designed to ensure a proper education environment where everyone can learn free of distractions, the problem is that excluding pregnant women isn’t substantially related to this purpose nor does it further it. Because while non-pregnant students will receive a proper in-class education, pregnant students definitely won’t because they’ll be confined to home study.
Furthermore, it seems like the Delhi Charter School administration must be entirely without legal counsel because if anyone had checked Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, they would’ve realized the policy also violated it, too.
Clearly, whoever was behind passing this policy didn’t put much due diligence into it. Luckily, it’s likely not going to be around for much longer. But what do you guys think of the school’s attempted to segregate pregnant students? It’s clearly unconstitutional, but do these types of rules ever have a place in public education and/or life in general?