On December 8, 2021, Isaak Olson filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s blanket ban against cadets becoming parents, regardless of their circumstances and without exception. The ban applies to all cadets who become parents or pregnant, starting at fourteen weeks of pregnancy. Despite completing all the academic and military requirements for graduation and commission, Mr. Olson was disenrolled from the Academy at the end of his senior year after informing his superiors that his fiancée had given birth to their son.
The Academy’s ban forces cadets to hide their personal lives and identities from their friends and families, cut contact with their children and co-parents, involuntarily surrender their parental rights, and, in some cases, terminate their pregnancies to avoid disenrollment. Many cadets have also dropped out of the Academy and abandoned their career aspirations in order to give birth to and take care of their children. The ban reflects antiquated and harmful stereotypes that people with family responsibilities—and particularly, women with children—are less committed to their work, more likely to be absent or unreliable, and incapable of completing their duties.
The lawsuit challenges the Academy’s policy under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act. In addition to a recission of the parenting ban, Mr. Olson seeks his degree and commission.
The ACLU Women’s Rights Project and the ACLU of Connecticut are co-counsel with the clinic on the matter.
For additional information about this lawsuit, see the documents linked below.
Complaint (filed December 8, 2021)
Selected Press Documents and Media Coverage
Press Release (issued December 8, 2021)