Two pregnant students in a small Michigan town probably wouldn't need a yearbook photo to remember such a significant moment in their lives. But administrators at White Cloud High School aren't giving junior Deonna Harris and senior Kimberly Haney that chance.
The two girls were not allowed to use yearbook pictures that show their pregnant bellies, according to WOOD TV 8, and they believe they are being discriminated against by school officials.
Harris told WOOD TV 8 that she was pulled out of class on Tuesday by a yearbook staff member, who relayed a message from the yearbook teacher: Harris would have to re-take her photo, because she was visibly pregnant in her current portrait, which shows Harris and a few friends in a truck outside school.
"It's not like I was holding my belly. I wasn't promoting it in any way. It's just a full body picture," Harris told the local news station.
White Cloud Public Schools Superintendent Barry Seabrook said Thursday that he thinks allowing the girls' portraits in the yearbook would violate the state of Michigan's mandate that sex education in schools be abstinence-based.
“It’s our feeling … that (the photos) could very well be a contrary message to (the state policy),” Seabrook told the Associated Press. “We’re not saying they can’t have their photos in the yearbook.”
The state of Michigan teaches abstinence-based sex education in schools. But the law, which can be read here in its entirety, doesn't say anything about yearbooks.
"We do have an abstinence program, and the goal is to educate students about abstinence," Angela Minicuci, public information officer for the Michigan Department of Community Health, told The Huffington Post. "We also have a teen pregnancy program that works closely with communities to make sure teens who are pregnant can have access to proper care."
Minicuci wouldn't comment specifically on the comments of the White Cloud Schools' superintendent's comments, but noted, "We strictly work just to educate students about abstinence."
Haney and her boyfriend were voted "Most Likely To Get Married" out of the senior class, and they shot a photo of him jokingly proposing to her for the yearbook, WOOD TV 8 reports. But, because Haney's baby bump is visible, that photograph can't be in the yearbook, either.
"I also went to the bathroom and cried," she said.
The two girls have declined to re-take their photos -- which means, as of now, that they won't be included when it's published.
Recently, a young mother in North Carolina had a similar conflict with her school over yearbook photos. Students at Wheatmore High School were asked to take a senior picture with a prop that represents their achievements. But they refused to publish senior Caitlin Tiller's photograph holding her infant son in the school yearbook.