After hearing stories of lost scholarships and unearned degrees, Sen. Mary Boren, D-Norman, is hosting an interim study to learn how Oklahoma can better accommodate pregnant students in high school, college, and CareerTech.
“Young expectant mothers have enough challenges and not being appropriately accommodated by their school shouldn’t be one of them. Unfortunately, I’ve heard numerous stories of women forced to quit school because their scholarships, housing or other financial supports have been pulled,” Boren said. “Title IX is supposed to protect pregnant women in all areas of their public education, but I want to ensure that all schools, including private ones, are protecting these students, so they can finish their certification or degree, ultimately improving their lives and future opportunities.”
Boren is asking women who experienced a pregnancy in school to contact her and share about their experience and how they were accommodated. She is especially interested in those who attended private schools, many of which have requested waivers from Title IX pregnancy discrimination protections. She wants to know how the waiver impacted their college experience, financing, and completion.
Boren filed legislation, Senate Bill 138, during the 2020 session to protect students from pregnancy discrimination, but the measure didn’t receive a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.
“This is an issue I’ve been working on since I got into office but unfortunately, my bills haven’t received hearings. I’m hopeful that by gathering women’s stories my legislative colleagues will realize that this is in fact a problem in our education system,” Boren said. “We must do all we can to get these women to the finish line with their educations. Not all of them have a spouse, family, or others to depend on for financial help. Many are single mothers who, in order to ensure the best opportunity for their children, need to earn their degrees, certifications, and diplomas.”
Boren’s study will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 2:30 p.m. in Room 535 at the state Capitol. The meeting will be livestreamed on the Senate website at www.oksenate.gov.
Speakers will include the University of Oklahoma on IX and NCAA requirements to support pregnant and parenting students; Dr. Monique Bruner with Rose State on their program for young mothers and parents; and representatives from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, Career Tech, and the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE).