A small Christian school in Maryland, defended her decision to ban a pregnant student from attending her graduation ceremony on 2 June.
Officials at the Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, said the student, Maddi Runkles, 18, is not permitted during the ceremony, because they violated the school’s code of conduct by having sex before marriage, Fox 5 reported.
“Maddi is disciplined, not because she is pregnant, but because they are immoral,” David R. Hobbs, the administrator of the Patrimony of the Academy, said in a statement to the school, the parents, according to USA Today.
Hobbs mentioned that all students sign a pledge at the beginning of the school year stating in part, “this application extends to my actions, such as the protection of my body to refrain from fornication and from the use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs.”
“Heritage (the Academy) is also happy that she has chosen to not abort her son,” Hobbs wrote. “However, her immorality is the original choice she made that started this situation. Second, she gets her degree, she has earned it.”
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Runkles learned that she was pregnant in January. When they informed the school about her pregnancy, she was suspended for two days and stripped of all her leadership positions.
The baby’s father did not participate in the academy and the two are not planning to marry, Runkles said.
At first, the school told Runkles that they would have to complete the rest of the school year at home, but her family in the appeal. The school then decided to let the teenager finish out the academic year at the academy, but they would be excluded from the graduation ceremony, according to the Washington Post.
Runkles’ father, Scott, a former president of the school, the board of directors quit the board to protest the school officials’ treatment of his daughter.
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“The difference is consistency because we have other students that are serious violations and they have walked in the past and they are allowed to walk this year,” Scott Runkles said.
“The school is worried about his reputation, but I think they miss an incredible opportunity to set an example for the pro-life community, and Christian schools about how to treat boys and girls like me,” the teenager said.
A number of the anti-abortion activists are expressing their support for Runkles and her decision to speak out on the issue.
“By the prohibition of her, and her alone, the management and the board jointly decided to make a public example of a student who willingly or unwillingly communicated to the school community that the pregnancy (not just sex before marriage) is a disgrace and should not be observed within our school community,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, said in a statement.
If the teen is so good at the graduation ceremony than she plans to be a private ceremony, and invite her classmates. She is due to give birth to a baby boy on Sept. 4.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.