A female student has received credit for a physical education class from which Napavine High School officials had wrongfully barred her due to her pregnancy. The action came after the ACLU of Washington intervened on her behalf.
In August 2009, junior Brittnay Pinkerton enrolled in an advanced physical education course, looking to fulfill her second of two required physical education courses. Upon learning that Pinkerton was in her first trimester of pregnancy, school officials initially promised to provide pregnancy-related accommodations to facilitate her participation in the course.
However, school officials soon reneged on their promise, removing Pinkerton from the physical education course, placing her in an alternative class, and indicating that she would need to enroll in another course after her pregnancy to fulfill her second physical education credit. School officials defended their actions as demonstrating a concern for Pinkerton’s health and the well-being of her unborn child – even though she provided them with multiple notes from her OBGYN approving of and even encouraging her participation in the physical education course.
In a letter to school officials, the ACLU explained that the arbitrary exclusion of pregnant students from classes places unnecessary burdens on these students and inhibits their academic success and progress. Further, such exclusion also constitutes sex discrimination in violation of both federal and state law.
The ACLU requested that Napavine High School give Pinkerton credit for the first semester of the advanced physical education course (from which she had been barred) and allow her to enroll and participate in the second semester of the advanced physical education course (pending medical approval). Napavine High School acquiesced, and Pinkerton has returned to the advanced physical education course.