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This Student Council President Was Banned From Her High School Graduation Because She's Pregnant

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Maddi Runkles, a high school senior in Maryland, will not be able to walk at her school's graduation because she's pregnant. Yup—in 2017, this is happening.

Runkles attends Heritage Academy, a small Christian school in Maryland. The school's website has posted a statement from Principal David R. Hobbs explaining why Runkles won't be allowed to join her classmates at graduation: "not because she's pregnant, but because she was immoral," breaking the school’s pledge to commit to abstinence. The New York Times reports that Runkles attained a 4.0 GPA and served as student council president during her time at school. But apparently having sex one time is enough to erase all those accomplishments.

Runkles' choice to keep the baby has been praised by various pro-life groups, who've pointed out that she could have quietly had an abortion and still walked at graduation, but instead decided to follow her Christian values. The president of Students for Life, Kristan Hawkins, told the Times that rather than being publicly shamed, Maddi should be “treat[ed] in a graceful and loving way.” While Slate reports that Maddi was originally ordered to leave the school altogether without graduating, the school's reduced punishment has still garnered tons of criticism at the national level. Runkles told The Washington Post that she will be attending Bob Jones University in the fall, a college listed as one of "The World's Most Controversial Religious Sites" by Foreign Policy in 2007.

Maybe instead of judging each other and stigmatizing individuals for what they did in the past, we should exercise forgiveness and kindness—you know, like Jesus said to? Runkles followed her heart, and all she's gotten from her school is punishment and scorn. She, and all young women who find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy, deserve way better.

Follow Rachna Shah on Twitter for more.


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