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Cadet reaches settlement with Coast Guard Academy over parent ban

Lawyers called for the ban to be rescinded at all U.S. military academies.

NEW LONDON, Conn. — A Coast Guard Academy cadet has reached a settlement with the school after he was expelled just weeks before his graduation because his fiancée had given birth to their first child.  

In 2014, Isaak Olson, a cadet at the USCG Academy, was expelled from the Academy and denied his completed Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and commission as an officer. 

 According to the agreement, Olson will be awarded his degree as well as a written statement explaining that his cadet appointment was terminated solely due to the Academy’s ban on cadet parents.

RELATED: 7 cadets disenrolled from Coast Guard Academy after violating its vaccine mandate

The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Connecticut, and Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic worked on the case.

“No one should ever have to choose between the honor of being a Coast Guard cadet and the honor of being a parent. I’m thankful the Academy has reached a settlement that recognizes my right to both,” said Olson, former cadet at the USCG Academy. “Becoming a parent shouldn’t be seen as a hardship. Cadets who are parents should be afforded the same opportunity to uphold the Coast Guard’s standards as their peers. I look forward to the day that cadets are given the same rights as the rest of the service.”

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According to the defense team, the USCGA's policy prohibiting cadets from being parents remains in effect. As part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 signed by President Biden, the Department of Defense is actively revising similar policies at the U.S. Air Force, Military, and Naval academies to ensure that cadets can preserve their parental rights. The USCG Academy is run by the Department of Homeland Security.

RELATED: U.S. Coast Guard graduates new cadets, VP Harris gives keynote address

 “The Coast Guard Academy’s ban on parenthood was adopted only after it began admitting women as cadets, and is rooted in harmful and outdated gender stereotypes. The Biden administration can and should act immediately to end this discriminatory policy at the Coast Guard Academy," said Linda Morris, staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. 

The suit was filed in federal court on December 8, 2021 by the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School, the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, and the ACLU Foundation of Connecticut.

Doug Stewart is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at dstewart@fox61.com.


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