“A student can do what’s best for them, their family, and their child’s health, as well as continue their education,” said Ashley Sawyer, director of policy and government relations at Girls for Gender Equity.
The change is one of several changes to the Chancellor’s Rules which deal with pregnant and parenting students and reproductive privacy.
Girls for Gender Equity officials, who worked with the DOE on the suggested revisions, say these are the first significant changes since 2008.
According to 2016 figures, about 8,000 female students in the system were pregnant.
“We see this as a win,” Sawyer said. “This is an opportunity for the protections given to adults in the workplace to be extended to young people who are in school.”
Under the lactation space provision, school officials must:
Make a reasonable effort to find a lactation space. It must be a sanitary space, other than a toilet. It must be out of sight and safe from intruders. It should include an electrical outlet, a flat surface, and a chair. The student must have access to running water and a refrigerator for storage.
“A lot of our buildings are very old, so we have to be careful with the logistics,” Sawyer said.
The DOE released a statement saying:
“We are committed to ensuring that all students, including those who are pregnant and parents, feel comfortable and supported in our schools and we are delighted that our regulations now codify this commitment. Providing lactation space for students who need it will help ensure that we foster a supportive environment where every student feels welcome and every school is inclusive. »
Sawyer says she sees this review as an opportunity.
“We see this as an opportunity to ensure that students, regardless of gender, are able to continue their education, complete their education and not feel the need to leave school because they are parents” , she said.
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