When Kamaria Downs was a college senior, she got pregnant. The honors student planned to complete her studies and graduate, but her college had other plans. Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina learned Downs was pregnant through medical forms. They then kicked her out of her dorm, NBC News reported Friday.
Downs had prepaid for her dorm, so she was out of that money as she searched for another place to live. She finished her senior year, graduated, and began teaching elementary school, but she knew her college was wrong.
"I had to conceal my pregnancy from everyone and the university made me feel ashamed to be pregnant. I had to stand up. It wasn't right," Downs said.
Legal non-profit Public Justice took on her cause. Downs brought a Title IX case against the Christian university. Title IX prevents universities receiving federal money from discriminating on the basis of gender. This includes pregnancy or parenthood, but Claflin had been doing just that. They didn't allow pregnant students to live in dorms after their first trimester.
Downs and Claflin settled the case this August, but Downs isn’t the only one to benefit. Claflin now accommodates pregnant students, even past the first trimester. They have also provided more training on Title IX to students and staff.
“My hope is she will look at me and see how I helped, and for her to say, ‘I can make a change, as well,’” Downs said of her now one-year-old daughter Ryann. “I did it not only for her, but for other girls growing up."
Lead Image Credit: Boston Public Library on Flickr Creative Commons.