For becoming pregnant out of wedlock, a Christian academy has banned an 18-year-old from attending her high school graduation.
“Honestly, I just think it has set a horrible example of [how] Christians and pro-life Christians treat girls,” Maddi Runkles told InsideEdition.com.
The teen, who is due in September, says she told officials at Heritage Academy in Maryland that she was pregnant at the beginning of the year. She was suspended for two days, she said, for breaking a school rule prohibiting sexual activity between unmarried couples.
She was told she would not be able to participate in her commencement ceremony, attend school activities, and was being removed from position on the student council.
“My parents, and tons of people, said ‘You know, you can’t just send away the pregnant girl. That doesn’t look great. That sets a bad example.”
Maddi says she understands she violated a school rule, but says being suspended was punishment enough.
"Being banned from graduation is especially hurtful." she said. “Because this is an academic achievement. This has nothing to do with my behavior rules that I had broken. This is acknowledging what I’ve worked so hard for academically.”
In a letter, academy officials called the girl’s pregnancy “immoral.”
Her father, who had led the school board, resigned in anger over his daughter’s punishment.
Maddi, who is expecting a boy, says she plans to live at home and raise her son with the help of her parents.
She has little hope that Heritage Academy officials will reverse their decision, she said.
“Because of all the media attention, I think they’re just going to try and stand their ground and prove their point that this is the decision that was made and they’re in charge of things,” she said.
Her parents are having their own graduation ceremony for Maddi on June 3.
“A lot of people aren’t too fond of us right now just because of all the negative attention that the school has gotten from this,” she said. “So I’m not expecting too many school families to show up.
“Some are coming, some are not,” she said. “And that’s OK.”