A Maryland high school senior named Maddi Runkles has been banned from walking at her high school graduation because she is pregnant. In a letter to parents Tuesday evening, school principal David R. Hobbs said that Runkles is being disciplined, "not because she is pregnant but because she was immoral". The school has issued a letter to her parents stating the reason as to why she has been removed from the school, adding that the "best way to love her right now is to hold her accountable for her morality that began this situation".
Runkles, who has been accepted to Bob Jones University, a Christian school in SC, doesn't believe Heritage will change its mind about letting her walk at graduation June 2, but she said that if it does, she will take part. The board decided Maddi would graduate with her classmates next month, but banned her from walking at graduation. "That's just not fair to me", she said.
After she discovered her pregnancy in January, the school told her that she should complete her education at home.
MacCallum interviewed both the 18-year-old and Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, the group Runkles' family turned to for help. But she argues that students who have also broken other parts of the pledge have been allowed to attend the graduation ceremony.
But Runkles and her family disagree with Hobbs and want her to walk at graduation.
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Hobbs said Heritage, which opened in 1969 and has 175 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, emphasizes abstinence and tells students to "maintain their purity until their wedding night". The nuns who ran our school didn't always have a great track record for compassionate choices, but we were all thrilled that they came together to support our pregnant friend during her senior year.
"Some [teachers] gave me puppy dog eyes but said nothing, some avoided eye contact when I asked to use the bathroom, and one pulled me aside to tell me that I made a huge mistake", she continued.
The decision by the board of governors of the Heritage Academy, in Hagerstown, has drawn criticism on social media from those who say the school is showing no Christian compassion to the teenager. In April, Runkles first publicly shared her story at a Students for Life rally held in Washington, D.C. The Fox segment included exclusive MRC footage of her speech.
"[Runkles] made the courageous decision to choose life, and she definitely should not be shamed", Hawkins said to the Times. However, the school stands by its decision saying she was immoral. And I get that, because that would sound disgusting. The CDC believes increased access to contraceptives for sexually active youth may play a role in these trends, though the agency also suggests that larger numbers of teens may be choosing abstinence.
Runkles responded by telling school leaders she would speak for herself at the event. And she has other things on her mind. However, Maddi encountered the loving support of her parents and the Christian community at her church and chose to keep the baby.