Recently, the story of 18-year-old Maddi Runkles has been making its way around the news. If you don’t recognize the name, she is a teen from Maryland who attends Heritage Academy, a conservative K-12 Christian school. In January, she discovered she was pregnant and told her school, who then gave her a two day suspension and stripped her of her student council position for breaking the abstinence pledge that every student from grades 5-12 must sign. On Monday, David Hobbs, the school’s principal, released a statement on the school website. In that statement he says, “The Student Pledge which every student from 5th grade through 12th grade signs states that this application of Philippians 4:8 “extends to my actions, such as protecting my body by abstaining from sexual immorality and from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs”. So yes, Maddi did go against the pledge. But she was punished for that and now owns up to her actions.
So why can’t she walk at graduation? Hobbs’ reasoning for this is that “Maddi is being disciplined, not because she’s pregnant, but because she was immoral.” He claims that the school commends her for not wanting an abortion, but must still discipline her.
While Hobbs points out that Runkles will still receive her diploma, she will not get the chance to walk or celebrate with her friends whom she has been around for years. He had originally planned to hold an assembly and announce her pregnancy to the student body until Runkles stepped in and said that she would much rather announce it herself.
Runkles herself, has said that she is being unfairly shamed by her school community for her pregnancy. An article from TODAY states that, “The group and Runkles argue that by singling out a pregnant student, the school is making abortion a more appealing option than suffering embarrassing and excessive punishment.” So as a school that promotes pro-life values, why would punishing a student who decided against abortion be the right decision to make? Although she went against the pledge to remain celibate, which she was already punished for, she has chosen to keep her child. She is a strong 18-year-old girl who decided to take on one of the toughest things that could be thrown at a teenager. She should be praised for her courage and not shamed or embarrassed.