Unfit Subjects: Educational Policy and the Teen Mother

Unfit Subjects: Educational Policy and the Teen Mother

Unfit Subjects: Educational Policy and the Teen Mother

Unfit Subjects: Educational Policy and the Teen Mother


Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, guaranteeing the right to equal education, the challenge of educating teen mothers has fallen to schools. In Unfit Subjects, Wanda Pillow presents a critical analysis of the ways in which educational policy defines and addresses teen pregnancy. Unfit Subjects traces the successes and failures in educating pregnant teens from 1972 to the present to inform an equitable educational policy that will finally make room for these young women.


If I'd never gotten pregnant, I would've never come back to school. I came back to school because of my baby.

Title IX, passed in 1972, effective July 12, 1975, provides specific provision and language governing provision of education for school-age mothers. Title IX states:

[A] recipient [of federal funding] shall not discriminate against any student, or exclude any student from its education program or activity, including any class or extracurricular activity, on the basis of such student's pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy or recovery therefrom, unless the student requests voluntarily to participate in a separate portion of the program. (106.40, b)

He called me into his office and he said, “I hear you are pregnant.” And I say “yeah, so what?” He says we don't have pregnant girls in this school-how it was bad for the school's reputation and would give other girls ideas.

He told me I had to sign the slip and go to this other school-if you are pregnant and you wanna stay in school, this [the separate school] is the only choice.

Furthermore, Title IX requires that admittance to any separate facility set up for teen mothers must be “completely voluntary on the part of the student (106.40, 3)” and the district must: “ensure that the instructional program is the separate program is comparable to that offered to non-pregnant students” (106.40, 3).

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