Pregnant and Parenting Students

What the Law Requires

Schools that receive federal funds must not discriminate against students on the basis of sex, including
a student’s pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination, or recovery therefrom. Schools must
provide equal access to school programs and extracurricular activities to students who might be, are, or have
been pregnant. Schools are required to treat pregnant and parenting students the same way they treat other
students who are similarly able or unable to participate in school activities.

Further, any rules concerning parental, family, or marital status may not apply differently based on sex. For example, universities cannot provide women with time to bond with or care for their children and not men.

Pregnancy-Related Absences

Students must be allowed to take time off of school for pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage, abortion and/or recovery for as long as their doctor says is medically necessary. That could mean a few absences for necessary medical appointments, or a longer leave of absence for a high-risk pregnancy or childbirth. This rule applies even if taking medically necessary leave would require an absence for longer than the school’s leave policy ordinarily allows.  Students cannot be penalized for taking leave, and must be able to return to school in the same status they held before taking leave.   

See OSU Parental Care Guidebook and Graduate Student Handbook

Title IX requires schools to provide pregnant students with services and accommodations equal to those provided to non-pregnant students.

Schools are required to provide pregnant students, and students with related conditions such as childbirth, or false pregnancy, with at least the same special services as it provides to students with other temporary conditions.  For example, if a school provides homebound instruction or take-home assignments to students who miss school for illnesses, they must do the same for a student who misses school as a result of pregnancy or childbirth. Pregnant students and those with related medical conditions may also be eligible for disability protections and services under the ADA, depending upon their condition. 

Your right to pump and breastfeed

If you must miss class to nurse or pump, your absence should be excused and you should not be penalized for your time away. This means your grade cannot be lowered due to poor attendance, you must be given the ability to make up any work missed, and you must be able to get the information you missed as well.

If you have difficulty getting excused absences, you may need to provide a doctor’s note stating that it is medically necessary for you to pump on a certain schedule.

See Nursing Mother/Lactation Rooms


For assistance, please contact:

Kellie Brennan, Compliance Director and Title IX/Clery Coordinator

Scott Lissner, ADA Coordinator and 504 Compliance Officer 

Other resources:

The Pregnant Scholar - An online resource for university students, faculty, and adminsitrators on pregnancy and parenting

OCR Know Your Rights - Pregnant or Parenting? Title IX protects you from discrimination at school

US Department of Education - Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students

National Women's Law Center - Pregnant and Parenting Students' Rights: FAQ for College and Graduate Students