Officials at a North Carolina high school have removed from the yearbook a graduating student's senior portrait because the photo shows her posing with her newborn baby.
Caitlin Tiller is a 17-year-old student of Randolph County's Wheatmore High School in Trinity, N.C. In April 2012 she gave birth to a baby boy. That summer, senior portraits were taken, according to Fox North Carolina's WGHP. Students were invited to pose with props that represented them or their achievements. Tiller decided to pose with her baby
“He helped me get to where I am today,” she told WGHP, adding that after giving birth she worked harder in school, graduated early, began college classes in January and got a part-time job working 30 hours a week. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him.”
Last month, just two days before the yearbook was set to be printed, Tiller was told her photo would not appear. School officials allegedly told the teen mom she had been banned from the yearbook because her photo might "promote teen pregnancy," according to WGHP.
CBS station WFMY reports officials reasoned that a baby is not allowed in the photo because a baby is not school related. Tiller was asked to provide another photo or use the photo with her son for the "Senior Advertising" section in the back.
Tiller still does not understand. She thinks the photo sends a positive message, since she is both a teen mom and a high school graduate. "I want everyone to see that you can make a mistake and you can overcome it," she told WFMY. "And then I don't want to say Leelin is a mistake, because he's not. But everyone bumps their heads."
Officials at Wheaton High School were not immediately available to comment. Randolph County Schools did not respond to a request for comment but reportedly stands by its decision to remove the photo.
The Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (APPCNC) reports that teen pregnancy in North Carolina has hit an all-time low. It has declined 58 percent since its peak in 1990. Between 2010 and 2011, teen pregnancy declined 12 percent. In 2011, there were 236 pregnancies among girls 15 to 19 years old in Randolph County alone.