Pro-Life Group Denounces School's Decision to Ban Pregnant Teen From Graduation Ceremony
A Maryland teenager spoke out on "The Story" after her small Christian school banned her from walking in her graduation ceremony after she became pregnant.
The story of Maddi Runkles, 18, has made national headlines after the Heritage Academy in Hagerstown punished Runkles for violating its code of conduct, which prohibits premarital sex.
In a statement, the school's administrator said the decision - which has been denounced by some pro-life advocates - was made "because [Runkles] was immoral." The teen will receive her diploma.
Runkles' father resigned his position on the school's board in protest to the decision. The school originally ruled that Runkles would have to finish the school year at home, but then amended the decision to allow her to attend classes, but not walk at graduation.
She was also given an unofficial suspension and stripped of her school leadership positions.
Martha MacCallum sat down with Runkles Thursday night. Martha explained that the school also called an assembly to essentially "shame" Runkles in front of her classmates.
"[The principal] said he wanted to publicly announce what I had done," Runkles explained.
Runkles responded by telling school leaders she would speak for herself at the event. She then had to speak in front of the whole school, including some parents, to inform them she was pregnant.
"I immediately started crying," she recalled, adding she and her father were both choked up reading the statement.
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America applauded Runkles' courage throughout the ordeal.
Hawkins said she argued to the school's principal that Christians must show grace and forgiveness, rather than punish premarital sex in this way.
"What they have done is told every girl in that school [that] it's better to have an abortion and cover this up," said Hawkins, whose group launched a campaign to try to get the school to reverse its decision.
Runkles said her punishment, which began in January, is harsher than other instances of students who violated the code of conduct.
Watch the full interview above.