You may be familiar with Students for Life of America’s (SFLA) initiative that aimed to help pregnant and parenting students on college campuses, formerly known as Pregnant on Campus (PoC). This initiative was started in 2014 and until 2018, Beth Rahal was the director.
The initiative was initially designed to help moms on college campuses navigate the hurdles that a pregnant student might have to face, whether that was knowing their rights on campus, getting help with housing or financial aid, or looking for affordable childcare. SFLA student groups at colleges across the U.S. held diaper drives, threw baby showers, gave scholarships, volunteered at pregnancy help centers, and helped moms jump through the hoops needed to get various forms of assistance.
I remember being a part of the SFLA group at OSU and helping update our group’s PoC resource guide for Ohio State University (OSU) specifically and the Columbus area in general. I remember thinking, what a great resource! There was nothing I could find on OSU’s website that had such comprehensive information for pregnant and parenting students, all in one place.
In February of this year, PoC was rebranded to Standing With You. Camille Cisneros, who has worked with both Justice for All and Culture of Life Family Services, is currently with SLFA and heads up the program now. SFLA is still providing the same great resources to pregnant and parenting students, but with the rebranding comes a few new highlights.
First of all, the need for the program was reiterated when polling data came back showing only 36% of Millennial and Gen Z respondents said they could name a resource for a high school or college friend who came to them pregnant and asking for help. Less than half the respondents ever remember seeing support for pregnant or parenting students given at either high school or college and a staggeringly low 17% knew how the rights of such students were protected by Title IX!
Besides that polling data, statistics have shown that for years, moms and dads have listed parenting or being pregnant as a main reason for dropping out of high school or college. Additionally, about a quarter of all undergraduate college students list dependents! That’s almost 25% of the college student population who are parents — not counting those currently pregnant or who dropped out because of being pregnant or having children. It seems like if colleges cared about retention rates, helping pregnant and parenting students with practical resources like childcare would greatly improve that outcome.
Lack of knowledge of their rights and resources, combined with schools not knowing about or not enforcing Title IX, creates the perfect scenario for pregnant women to decide on abortion.
Women who get pregnant while in school are more likely to report not having someone on campus to support them or want them to succeed, and more likely to report discrimination and outright hostility towards participating in academic or extracurricular activities — even from other students! Guttmacher has published data showing that 74% of women listed education or career interference as a reason for their abortion.
The Standing with You site is a one-stop shop for concerned working and studying parents. Instead of having to search for all these resources independently, pregnant and parenting students can get a wealth of resources for pregnancy all in one place, as well as information on their rights.
The new website looks clean and welcoming and comes with information not just for students, but for working parents, too!
Pregnant and parenting students can now find information on their rights in the workplace as well as on campus, as well as some general guidelines on how to balance parenthood with being a student and having a job.
It’s also really easy to find resources on the website. There is a map to click on the state you need help in, and once you click on the state, you can sort resources by type to narrow down the results, instead of being overwhelmed by all the resources at once.
The website also has a live chat option from 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, as well as a hotline number: (877) 306-8138.
The site even has a fetal development tracker as well as tips for diet and exercise during pregnancy. There are additional resources for parents who received a poor prenatal diagnosis and those who are experiencing grief with a reproductive loss.
While colleges and workplaces have come a long way in making reasonable accommodations for pregnant or parenting women, knowledge of those resources and the rights they have is still lacking for many students. SFLA is working to empower not only the students who need help, but also to help the universities who have these students by giving them feedback and guidance on policies they have currently or could put in place.
By helping close the gap between rights and resources already in existence and the student’s knowledge of them, SLFA is committed to reducing abortion rates among a vulnerable population of pregnant women, encouraging a culture of life, and improving the economic outcomes for women who may otherwise drop out of high school or college.