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Campaign Intro



Campaign Intro







Listen to the #TruthTelling!

We've gathered stories of Title IX rights infringement from LGBTQQIA+ individuals, pregrant and parenting youth, and survivors of sexual violence. Support ICAH's proposed model policy by adding your name to the list of those who believe pregnant and parenting young people should receive the resources and supports necessary to succeed academically. #TitleIX #YouthVoice #TruthTelling

Based on the experience and recommendations of PPY and adult professionals from school, family, and healthcare systems, who co-wrote the policy, ICAH's proposed Model District Title IX Policy outlines support above what is included in federal law and includes the following: 

  • Gender inclusive language to support students of any gender and sexual identity who are pregnant and parenting. Similarly, we use "chestfeeding/breastfeeding" language to acknowledge all of the diverse gender identities and bodies of PPY. 
  • Recommends all teachers and staff are required to be informed about the Title IX rights of PPY. We hope this helps the whole school community has the knowledge and resources to ensure PPY receive the education they deserve. 
  • Highlights the need for PPY to use excused absences when their child is sick, in addition to upholding HB2369, the 2018 law that mandates that schools provide a private space other than a bathroom for PPY to pump breast milk while at school.
  • Incorporates "partner(s)" as a term for this document. We envision that this policy will apply to the variety of families that are a supportive resource to PPY as well as their partner(s). We suggest that partner(s) of PPY who are also students should also receive the same rights and privileges as PPY, especially if they serve as caretakers.
  • Acknowledges that PPY students who have experienced sexual, dating, domestic or intimate partner violence or trauma and choose to continue their education as a PPY are additionally protected and entitled to an equitable education under Title IX.
  • Highlights PPY who have different learning needs and differences in ability.
  • Proposes that each school assign the role of pregnant and parenting student liaison (PPSL) to a school staff person, who will embody and uphold social justice and social work values to best support PPY. The PPSL would also be responsible for managing a PPY Student Support Team, which will serve to best advocate for the needs of the PPY student.

About Title IX

The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released recommendations for school districts to better support pregnant and parenting students under Title IX. ICAH's CHAT youth and adult accomplices are committed to ensuring students, teachers, administrators, and all others are aware of the law and its principles.


  • No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance
  • A school district must publish a notice that it does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its educational programs or activities
  • A school district must designate at least one employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under the law


  • Discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery from any of these conditions
  • A school from applying any rule related to a students’ parental, family, or marital status that treats students differently based on their sex
  • Schools from excluding a pregnant student from participating in any part of an educational program


  • A school may offer separate programs or schools for a pregnant student, but participation in those programs or schools must be completely voluntary.  If a school offers a voluntary program, that program must provide academic, extracurricular, and enrichment opportunities comparable to those provided to the students in the regular school program
  • A school must provide the same special services to a pregnant student that it provides to the students with temporary medical conditions
  • Schools cannot require a pregnant student to produce a doctor’s note in order to stay in school to participate in activities unless the same requirement to obtain a doctor’s note applies to all students being treated by a doctor
  • A school must excuse a student’s absences due to pregnancy or related conditions, including recovery from childbirth, for as long as the student’s doctor deems the absences to be medically necessary
  • Schools must ensure that the policies and practices of individual teachers do not discriminate against pregnant students
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What is PNA?

Parental Notification of Abortion (PNA) is a law that harms young people in Illinois. PNA mandates that people 17 years old and younger who decide to have an abortion must notify an adult family member at least 48 hours in advance of the procedure. 

Though parents/caretakers need not provide their consent, PNA can and does put young people in danger. Research shows that while most youth who have abortions do tell an adult, young people who would not otherwise have involved their parents/caretakers are the ones most likely to suffer negative and harmful consequences. 

We believe that all young people deserve to be safe. We believe in young people's capacity to make decisions. We believe that we must trust youth.

+ An Overview

Download Youth Resource Guide in English / Español from UChicago Ci3: Legal Considerations for Minors in Illinois

Any person 17 or younger seeking access to abortion services in the state of Illinois on or after August 15, 2013 without having an adult family member notified by a doctor, might have to go to court to get a judicial waiver of the notification requirement (i.e., judicial bypass). Read article on the Huffington Post.

History has shown that people will access abortion by any means necessary. We need to ensure that young people access safe procedures performed by medical providers. Due to the stigma and shame of abortion, along with troubling parental/home/abusive circumstances suffered by at least a third of youth it is imperative that young people have unfettered access to abortion.


While research shows that most young people do consult a parent or caring adult before accessing abortion, the ACLU of IL and ICAH are working to help young people who are unable to do so (for safety, confidentiality or any other reason) obtain access to a judicial bypass of parental notification. This is critical.

While a young person can have an abortion without getting the consent (permission) of a parent, grandparent, or legal guardian, the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion (PNA) law requires their medical provider to notify an adult family member (someone over 21 who is your parent, grandparent, step-parent who lives with the young person, or a legal guardian) 48 hours before performing the abortion. They DO NOT have to tell anyone if:

  • Either parent, any grandparent, a step-parent who lives with the young person, or a legal guardian goes to the doctor with the young person.
  • Either parent, any grandparent, a step-parent who lives with the young person, or a legal guardian gives up their right to notice in writing.
  • The young person gives their medical provider a written statement that says they are a victim of sexual abuse, neglect or physical abuse by either parent, any grandparent, a step-parent who lives with the young person or a legal guardian. If they provide a written statement, be aware that their medical provider may be required to report the abuse or neglect to the Department of Children and Family Services after the abortion.
  • The doctor decides that there is a medical emergency.
  • The young person is married, divorced or widowed. They must be at least 16 and have consent from both parents in order to get married in Illinois.
  • They are emancipated. Their petition for emancipation must have been approved by a judge because they are at least 16 and can show that they are mature enough to manage their own affairs or they are a homeless minor in Illinois and fully or mostly independent of their parents or guardian.
  • The young person gets a parental notice waiver from the court after a successful “judicial bypass” hearing. A young person can choose to notify whichever adult family member (someone who is your parent, grandparent, step-parent who lives with you, or a legal guardian) they want to.

+ What is "notification"?

Notification means informing. The law does not require that an adult family member give consent (permission) for the young person to have an abortion. If a young person tells an adult family member and they disagree with the decision, the young person can still have the abortion.

If a young person decides to notify an adult family member, their clinic or doctor can give notice to the adult family member:

  • In person
  • By phone
  • By certified mail (Only if notice in person or by phone is not possible after reasonable effort) If a young person is unable or unwilling to tell an adult family member about their decision to have an abortion, they can request a “judicial bypass“ from the court.

A young person should never give false information as a way to get out of the “parental notice” requirement.




Take a listen to some of the stories we collected from young people about their experiences ending their pregnancies. We believe that these stories must be heard, especially in light of the national political climate and the 2013 enforcement of the Parental Notification for Abortion Act in Illinois.



#StopPNA Story Map

The StopPNA Story Map shows that Illinois youth and adults have something to say in opposition to the dangerous Parental Notification of Abortion (PNA) Law in Illinois. We began collecting stories as soon as the law went into effect in August 2013 and haven’t stopped since then.

Interact with the map by zooming in and out and clicking on points shows petition signatures, postcards people have signed and sent to their legislators, and stories people have written on t-shirts, and transcriptions of audio recordings of youth describing how a law like this impacts them.

Any news stories or signatures will be continuously added to this map. To share your story about parental notification, use this online form.

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Youth-friendly Healthcare

Youth-friendly Healthcare

Youth-friendly Healthcare

Youth-friendly Healthcare

Youth-friendly Map

Zoom in and click on the markers to learn more about what a specific location offers.

Cultivating #YouthVoice

In Spring 2015, ICAH’s Healthcare Network, along with intern Kassy Podvin, held 8 weeks of focus groups--two with healthcare providers and one with youth, including young parents--in a two-county suburban area in Illinois (locations have been redacted to preserve the anonymity of participants). We researched where young people were reported to seek services most often and made connections with youth workers by establishing on-going youth meetings.

Through collaboration with a high school childcare center and their director [redacted], ICAH’s Healthcare Network held an hour-long focus group with eight of the center’s pregnant and parenting young people on May 6th, 2015. ICAH listened to stories of young people regarding where and how frequently they accessed care and what their healthcare experience and provider relationships looked like.

Pregnant and Parenting Youth Focus Group Findings

  • Inconsistency of healthcare provider availability
    • While participants voiced that they had previously sought services at [local clinics], there was an overwhelming shared experience of having inconsistent provider availability. One young parent expressed that they had a total of three doctor transitions over the course of their pregnancy.
  • Barriers to effective healthcare experiences and access
    • Multiple participants expressed long wait time both on the phone while making appointments as well as at clinics after checking in for their scheduled time. Some young people spoke to waiting for over an hour for a scheduled appointment, while others were turned away completely if they were a couple minutes late.
    • Language barriers were also present for young people that had difficulty understanding clinic workers or providers, even during childbirth experiences
    • Insurance also played a role in young people being able to access care and often meant they sought care at an Emergency Room versus having the opportunity to develop a primary care provider.
  • Incomplete and inaccurate medical information and services
    • An overwhelming majority of the young people stated that their doctors had performed incomplete health screenings and exams of their child that resulted in future emergency room visits due to missed information and warning signs during visits.
    • Many young parents also expressed that they were given inaccurate and incomplete information surround contraceptive care. This included not informing the young person of various possible side effects of birth control as well as not clearly communicating contraceptive options, including not being on birth control.
  • Use of shaming and judgmental language by providers
    • Young people experienced severe shaming surrounding their parenthood including being referred to as a “Child having a child” and being addressed with statements like “You’re not going to have another kid for a few years, right?” A vast majority of the participants reported that even if actual providers were respectful, they had to interact with clinic staff that were disrespectful and dismissing.

Participants of the pregnant and parenting young people focus group allow shared their thoughts on what providers and clinic staff could do to improve their healthcare experiences and increase their ability to access quality care. Shared themes surrounding suggestions included increased youth-friendliness among healthcare providers and having care that centers informed-choice and transparency. Specifically, young people gave the following feedback:

  • Increased youth-friendliness among healthcare providers
    • Positive greetings and smiles go a long way!
    • Non-judgmental language surrounding parenthood and sexuality helps start conversations and breaks down barriers.
  • Promote care that centers informed-choice and transparency
    • Don’t force or trick young people to do what they don’t want by not disclosing full or complete information. Actively listen to what young people are explaining to you to promote positive and effective patient-provider partnerships in the healthcare of young people.

Seeking #AdultAllies

Through conversations with adult community members who worked with young people, the spaces that continued to be presented as locations that were accessed by young people for healthcare services were [two locations]. While the Healthcare Network reached out to both service providers, we ended up providing two separate focus groups on April 1stand 29th that captured over 22 provider voices of [a local clinic] across specialties. These focus groups were held during protected staff meeting time and served as an informal way for ICAH to gain perspective within the limited time constraints of provider schedules.

Provider Focus Group Findings

During provider focus groups, two main themes were present when discussing barriers practitioners faced when providing healthcare services to young people: lack of access to accurate sexual health information and parental pressure or interference when seeking services. Focus group participants specifically addressed the following barriers:

  • Comprehensive sex education is not reaching all young people even though it is provided in 9th-11th grade classrooms
    • There is still a focus on abstinence that may include conversations about condoms without discussing how to use them effectively
    • One doctor stated that “high risk” young people are the ones not getting the information. Specifically, this provider referred to young people that were absent from or taken out of school lacking alternative spaces to access sexuality education and healthcare information.
    • Providers working at the juvenile detention center stated that young people were often unaware that their school had offered sex education. Providers shared experiences of working with young people that had not previously had the opportunity to access healthcare and became newly informed of pregnancy, healthcare information, and STI/HIV status upon arriving at the center.
  • There is a lack of information about the STI/HIV prevalence present in the community
    • One doctor reported a high number of 19-21 year old male-identified young people being HIV+
    • Several doctors spoke to the reason behind these numbers being linked to accurate STI/HIV information not being present or seen as important in the community
  • Parents can be a source of pressure for young people to be on birth control, specifically the DEPO shot, whether young people are sexually active or not
    • One provider told a story of an interaction with a 14 year old young person and their parent where the mother brought her in specifically for the DEPO shot.

Providers of the [local clinic] also highlighted ways that they were navigating these barriers when providing healthcare to young people. Themes that arose during this barrier navigation focus group discussion included: promoting the confidentiality and desires of young people and building strong patient-provider relationships. While these techniques were present, they were less generalizable among all group members and were instead only voiced by a few participants. Providers that did express barrier navigation skills emphasized the following:

  • Protect young person’s alone time with provider
    • Providers were aware of needing to protect patient confidentiality by asking parents to leave the room for part of the exam once the patient reached the age of 12
    • Providers understood that parents may read the printed patient plan or visit summary and ensured to protect confidentiality when writing appointment summaries
  • Be curious and build relationships
    • Providers spoke to asking open-ended and non-judgmental questions to understand where the young person got their information. There was also a mention of making the appointment more conversational and less about conveying expert knowledge by the provider
  • Increase access to resources when possible
    • The involvement of case managers and access to behavioral health services as a way to support young people accessing care

Conclusion and Recommendations

During the May 2015 Healthcare Network meeting, intern Kassy Podvin presented the focus group findings and information highlighted in this report. As a group, members collectively agreed that continued work in [this specific suburban area] is needed and composed the following recommendations to help guide that work.

Sustaining a targeted bottom-up approach

While the Healthcare Network remains focused on engaging with the three specialty areas of Family Medicine practitioners, Pediatricians, and Obstetrician-Gynecologists throughout the entire [suburban area], current organizing efforts should be redirected to alternative entry points and remain targeted on the [two-county area]. This approach will allow for relationships and knowledge of ICAH’s work to grow and will provide a platform for future provider engagement in other [suburban areas]. Organizing should focus on cultivating initial relationships with community organizations in addition to healthcare focused organizations, progressive professional healthcare networks or unions, medical staff, and school nurses to deepen ICAH’s knowledge of the area’s resources and landscape surrounding youth-friendliness in healthcare.

Building Youth-Adult Partnerships

A central part of ICAH’s continued organizing in the [suburban counties] should be focused on cultivating relationships with the area’s young people and the adult allies that work with them. This work will need to be informed by additional outreach and one-on-ones to identify current community members that have existing positive partnerships with young people in the area or have the ability to move and influence others in the community. Relationships with young people may be strengthened by engaging area youth with ICAH materials and workshops within schools and community spaces. Lastly, current venues for healthcare provider feedback, specifically from young people, should be identified. With the information and relationships gained across these avenues, organizing efforts should begin to work to create spaces for medical staff and providers to interface with young people in ways that allow for youth storytelling and adult ally skill building for providers.

Investment in youth involved in the juvenile justice system

Based on the focus group feedback, as well as additional knowledge provided by network member Christine Head, there has been expressed momentum and concern for the health of the area’s young people that have been involved with the juvenile justice system. Collaboration with professionals in this field that have an existing investment in the lives of young people, and who have identified health access as a need, is a promising entry point for ICAH’s organizing efforts.

Offering Creative Incentives

As part of ICAH’s work with providers and medical staff, there should be a creative focus on incentive development beyond and in addition to the establishment of Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit offerings. This incentivized approach would work in partnership with ICAH’s Education Coordinator to provide specialized professional development or certificates that would help promote youth-friendliness in healthcare. Marketing and language surrounding these incentives should be framed in ways that are more relatable to provider populations while also aligning with ICAH values.