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Diapers and Diplomas: One More Challenge Facing Latinas in Schools

Posted by Megan Tackney, Outreach Manager for Health and Reproductive Rights | Posted on: August 28, 2009 at 02:25 pm

by Megan Tackney, Program Associate,
National Women’s Law Center 

Latinas have the highest teen pregnancy rate of any racial or ethnic group in the country.  A staggering 53 percent of Latina teens get pregnant at least once before age 20. That’s nearly twice the national average.  As explained in our report released last week, Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation, this is one of many factors contributing to the high dropout rate for Latinas. Forty-one percent of Latina students do not graduate with their class in four years—if they graduate at all. And Latinas’ high teen pregnancy rate both reflects and reinforces the stereotypes and barriers they face.

Over the course of the last year, through surveys, interviews, and focus groups, we heard from over 300 Latina teens, some who are teen parents and many more who know girls who got pregnant and either dropped out of high school or considered doing so. And in a recent survey of dropouts by the Gates Foundation, close to one-half of female dropouts said that becoming a parent played a role in their decisions to leave school, while one-third said it was a major factor.

Why is the pregnancy rate for Latinas so high? Many of the girls we interviewed did not have access to comprehensive, medically accurate sex education. In some regions, where schools offer an abstinence-only curriculum, girls could not get reliable or helpful information about contraception. And many of the girls we interviewed reported that their parents did not talk to them about sex or pregnancy prevention either – if the subject was addressed at all, it was indirectly, with vague warnings like “don’t end up like your cousin.”

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Listening to Latinas: I am One of the Lucky Ones

Posted by | Posted on: August 27, 2009 at 04:00 pm

by Lucy Flores, Guest Blogger,
National Women's Law Center

My name is Lucy Flores.  I’m a first-generation Mexican American and the youngest girl of 13 siblings.  Growing up, I didn’t think I had much to strive for.  My mom left home when I was nine, and my father worked day and night to feed and clothe us.  I had no positive role models and no support system in place.

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NWLC Releases New Report - Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation

Posted by Christie Turner, MARGARET Fund Fellow | Posted on: August 27, 2009 at 12:42 pm

by Christie Turner, MARGARET Fund Fellow, 
National Women's Law Center 

As millions of students across the country return to school this week, I can’t help but think of all those who will not. Over a million students who start ninth grade this year won’t be joining their classmates on the graduation podium in four years. And increasingly, these students are Latina.

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Senator Kennedy: Champion of Fair Pay

Posted by Melanie Ross Levin, Director of Outreach | Posted on: August 26, 2009 at 10:15 pm

by Melanie Ross Levin, Outreach Manager, 
National Women's Law Center 

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Senator Kennedy – Our Civil Rights Champion

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: August 26, 2009 at 09:45 pm

by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment, 
National Women's Law Center 

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Senator Kennedy: A Champion for Education

Posted by Neena Chaudhry, Senior Counsel and Director of Equal Opportunities in Athletics | Posted on: August 26, 2009 at 09:05 pm

by Neena Chaudhry, Senior Counsel, 
and Dina Lassow, Senior Counsel, 
National Women’s Law Center 

Along with others across the world, we mourn the passing of a legend today.  Senator Kennedy championed many causes, including the right to equal educational opportunities for all, regardless of race, sex, family income, language barriers, or disability.  One of his causes that is particularly near and dear to our hearts is Title IX. 

In addition to being a key supporter for passage of Title IX, Senator Kennedy led the fight to ensure that the reach of the law was as broad as originally intended.  In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled in Grove City College v. Bell that Title IX’s protection against discrimination was limited to the specific programs within a school that received federal funds.  This decision had devastating consequences because it meant that athletics programs, for example, would not be covered unless they received federal funds, which they typically did not.  It also meant that students were only protected against sexual harassment if the harassment took place in a dormitory or classroom that happened to have been built with federal aid – not one across the street.  Senator Kennedy came to the rescue and was the leading author of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988, which overturned the Supreme Court’s Grove City decision and required recipients of federal funds to comply with civil rights laws in all areas, not just in a particular program or activity that receives federal funding.

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