Louisiana should treasure girls and not terrorize them.

What’s happening to young mothers in a high school in Louisiana is horrible. Students who are pregnant and are determined to continue their education are being suspended from school entirely and “shamed.” Equally horrific , those who are “suspected” of being pregnant are forced to submit to pregnancy tests.

Dealing with life as a teenager is hard enough without having those who should be their mentors implementing policies that terrorize them; especially at a time when they need help the most. Every effort should be made to help these teenagers to be successful at parenting. Equally important is to help them continue their education so that they can successfully take care of their new family; especially when they are trying to do so.

Terrorizing and shaming teenagers is not a preventive measure to stop them from having sex or getting pregnant in the first place. In my opinion, there’s a twisted ideology at work here. We have a host of repressive laws enacted and proposed that seek to take away a woman’s right to choose. We also have laws that are against contraception — for any woman (of note, men are exempt). The anti-choice movement has a history of violence against those who either perform abortions or work at a clinic or facility that performs abortions. They also do their best to defund agencies such as Planned Parenthood even though this agency provides critical health services and guidance for women (like planning a family instead of having one by chance) far beyond getting an abortion. And now Louisiana wants to stop educating pregnant teens and forcing those whom they think “might” be pregnant to submit to a test or be expelled from school. This is outrageous!

Read the story below. There’s a petition started by a mother in Newton MA to stop this horrific policy. Sign it and pass it on. Let’s celebrate women and girls and not hurt them.

Delhi Charter School: Stop Discriminating Against Pregnant Students! Started by: Natasha, Newton, Massachusetts

As a former teen mom, I know how hard it is to stay in school and graduate on time when you’re pregnant or taking care of a new baby. So I was shocked to learn that the Delhi Charter School in Delhi, Louisiana is shaming and suspending pregnant students — and imposing mandatory pregnancy tests on students who “might” be pregnant.

Students at Delhi Charter School — which is publicly funded — who are suspected of being pregnant are forced to take mandatory pregnancy tests. If they refuse, they’re told to stay home or transfer. And if they test positive, they’re told to stay home or transfer.

This discrimination is illegal. But the administration at Delhi Charter School seems to be more interested in making sure pregnant girls can’t get an education than in obeying federal law.

That’s why I started this petition to tell the Delhi Charter School administration to stop forcing girls to take pregnancy tests, and to stop shaming and suspending pregnant students and students who refuse to take the tests.

Does this kind of shaming stop teen pregnancies and build stronger, better educated communities? No. I know because I was a teen mom at 17, and now I work with teen moms every day as the Teen Parent Ambassador Coordinator for Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston.

7 years ago, I told teachers and administrators at my high school I was pregnant, thinking they’d want to help me graduate and build a future for myself and my child. Instead, they made me feel ashamed and unwelcome, and made it almost impossible for me to attend classes, jeopardizing my education and my future.

I was lucky enough to be able to transfer and, today, I work with other teen moms to support them in graduating on time and growing into successful adults. But the wonderful young women I work with have to overcome huge obstacles — 30% of all teen girls who drop out of high school leave because of pregnancy, and 70% of teen girls who give birth end up leaving school.

Advocacy groups and legal experts have already told Delhi Charter School their policy of mandatory pregnancy tests and suspending pregnant students breaks several federal laws because it discriminates against female students — it also violates the Constitution.

The Delhi Charter School says it “may rethink” the policy, but in the meantime, they can still shame pregnant students. Tell the school to immediately eliminate mandatory pregnancy tests and commit to giving pregnant students the same the same education, in the same place and at the same time, as all other students.

Click here to sign Natasha’s petition, “Delhi Charter School: Stop Discriminating Against Pregnant Students!”.

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