A North Carolina high school has banned a photo of a student from appearing in the yearbook — not because of inappropriate clothing or drug references, but because she is holding her baby. What gives?
A photo of a North Carolina student holding her baby boy has been banned from Wheatmore High School’s yearbook. The students were invited to include a prop that represents an achievement they are proud of, and despite no restrictions being given, they have removed her photo and have said that it helps promote teen pregnancy. Is this fair, or over the top?
Caitlin Tiller, 17 years old, said that other seniors chose beloved family pets, cheerleading gear or baseballs. She reported that she chose to include her son because he represented a huge achievement — creating a human being for starters, and how she rose to the challenge of being a teenage mother and graduating not only on time, but earlier than scheduled. “He helped me get to where I am today,” she told her local television station WGHP. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him.”
However, WHS informed her two days before printing that they were pulling the picture, citing “encouragement of teen pregnancy” as a reason. They let her know that she could submit an alternate photo but she declined.
Was the high school in the right, or does Caitlin have the right to have her photo included?
Most parents we spoke with were saddened and appalled that the high school took such measures. “I don’t understand why they wouldn’t allow it,” said Nix, mom of one.
“Having a child and graduating is most certainly an achievement of huge proportions, and I think allowing her to show her son, and obvious pride in herself, sends out the message that it absolutely can be done.”
Lisa, mom of three, agreed. “I think considering the context of the photos that it was absolutely appropriate and in no way condones teen pregnancy,” she explained. “This is incredibly sad that it isn’t allowed. She worked hard despite her circumstances.”
Not a baby book
Others felt that the school was within its rights to not publish the photo. “As being a former teen mother myself I am totally against it,” said Melissa, a user on Fox 4 Kansas City’s Facebook page. “What example is that setting for the other students… see I can do it, so can you? No. Good decision.”
Kimberly, another user, agreed. “Yes I am very proud of her for sticking with school and moving on to college while taking care of her baby,” she said. “I still don’t see it appropriate for the yearbook.”
In the meantime, Caitlin hopes that in the future the school will be more open to letting the students honor their achievements. She is currently enrolled in college and working 30 hours a week while parenting her son, and wants to be remembered as a mom who persevered and worked through her challenges.
Brittany, mom of one, may have summed it up best: “Teen pregnancy happens, and this is what we should be showing and not hiding,” she told us. “Despite getting pregnant young she still achieved graduating early. That’s amazing, not something to be hidden.”