American teenager Maddi Runkles has been banned from her high school graduation because she is pregnant.
Maddi, who attends a Christian school in Maryland, USA, was told that she wouldn’t be permitted at the graduation after falling pregnant in her senior year.
School officials at the Heritage Academy in Hagerstown have branded her ‘immoral’ for falling pregnant out of wedlock – something they are said to take very seriously. In the official code of conduct the school specifies that ‘no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of the marriage commitment between a man and a woman.’
Madeline Runkles added a new photo – with Kelsie Ranee Clark at Beaver Creek Country Club.
Maddi, 18, said that her friends, family and church have all offered support and guidance, but she’s been disappointed by her school’s reaction.
‘I was told that I was not allowed to come back to school, and I had to stay home and finish my classes, and I wasn’t allowed to be seen on campus, and I could not attend any school event until after I had the baby,’ she said.
‘It hurts, because I feel like all of my academic accomplishments have just been kind of thrown away and I won’t be acknowledged for everything I worked hard for.’
Many people are outraged ruling, particularly Maddi’s father, who resigned from his role as President of the school board over the matter.
‘Typically, when somebody breaks a rule, you punish them at the time they break the rule,’ he told the New York Times. ‘That way, the punishment is behind them, and they’re moving forward with a clean slate. With Maddi, her punishment was set four months out.’
‘It’s ruined her senior year.’
Social media has rushed to condemn the Heritage Academy’s decision, with many arguing that it’s ‘un-Christian’ to exclude a pupil and that they had acted hypocritically.
‘My Jesus would not prevent Maddi Runkles from walking, He would’ve walked with her! Unlike the board full of hypocrisy,’ wrote one angry Twitter user.
‘Heritage Academy has opportunity to demonstrate love & grace of Jesus. Instead choosing judgement & shame,’ said another.
Madeline Runkles updated her cover photo.
Maddi is one of the highest academic achievers in her school year, and admits that she ‘briefly’ considered having an abortion before deciding to ‘do the right thing.’ She has refused to name the father of her child, although she has confirmed that he doesn’t attend the Heritage Academy.
Following the attention the case has gained on social media, the headteacher of the school, David Hobbs, released this statement:
‘Let me clarify some facts. Maddi is being disciplined, not because she’s pregnant, but because she was immoral… her immorality is the original choice she made that began this situation.’
He went on to say that they aimed to celebrate the graduation and ‘god to be glorified in a dignified manner.’
Maddi’s parents have arranged her own graduation party the following day, and are fully supportive of her pregnancy.