• Fri, May 3 - 9:00 am ET

Teen Mom’s Photo Banned From Yearbook Because Pictures Of Babies Make Babies Happen

shutterstock_128582909__1367584434_142.196.167.223A North Carolina high school invited seniors to bring “props” that best represented themselves to pose with on senior picture day. One of the seniors, 17-year-old Caitlin Tiller, brought her infant son. School administrators freaked and started screaming, That’s not what we meant! Okay, they didn’t scream that – but they were so pissed at themselves for forgetting to include an “except a baby” clause to their prop invitation that they pulled her photo.

Two days before the yearbook was printed, Tiller was informed that her picture was being pulled because it “promoted teen pregnancy.” I don’t know about you, but when I was in high school the last thing I was fantasizing about was being tied down to an infant. If pictures of babies made teenagers pregnant – well, I can’t even finish that thought because it is so ridiculous. Pictures of teenagers holding babies don’t promote teen pregnancy. Why are we always so quick to believe that sheltering our kids from certain realities is beneficial?

From Fox Affiliate WGHP:

Tiller says since the birth of her son in April of 2012, she’s worked harder in school and graduated early. She started college in January and works more than 30 hours a week at a part-time job all while also being teenage mom. Tiller says she gets a lot of support from her family and Leelin’s father.

“He has helped me achieve my goal to graduate high school and go forward with my dreams,” she said.

Students chose everything from “baseballs, band instruments to family pets.” School officials refused to comment on the exact reason that the picture was pulled but said “the yearbook should be all about the student not an extension of their family.” So you can bring your dog, but not something that you actually birthed and are responsibly taking care of. Okay.

Teenage pregnancy is obviously a huge problem in this country, but it’s one that is solved with birth control and education – not shaming someone who has gone through the ordeal and is trying to be a responsible mother. She had every right to pose with her child. Covering up the fact that teen pregnancy exists does nothing to make it more rare.

(photo: Evgeny Atamanenko/ Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.white.3532507 Paul White

    I don’t know, every female coworker that I showed a picture of my newborn too went “oh, I want one!”
    (edit) this comment is tongue in cheek!

  • ejenkins

    What kind of insane editorial is this? “… something that you actually birthed and are responsibly taking care of” “…trying to be a responsible mother”
    If Tiller were a ‘responsible’ young girl she never would have gotten pregnant in the first place. She either would have used a reliable birth control method or she would not have had sex. Period. End of discussion. She did neither and she got pregnant long before she was prepared for it.
    School officials were perfectly within their rights to prevent the use of a picture that would appear to condone behavior (out of wedlock pregnancy) that is irresponsible and damaging to young GIRLS. THINK ABOUT IT PEOPLE. She was 16 when she got pregnant. These are GIRLS we are talking about. Not full-grown adults. Just because they hit puberty, does NOT make them ready to be mothers.

    • chickadee

      You forgot ‘or she could have gotten an abortion’ after ‘using birth control’ and ‘not having sex.’

      And she is being responsible–she is graduating high school, attending college, and trying to make a future for herself and her baby. She is making good decisions.

      I am afraid that if states continue to make it harder to get legal abortions, you may see many more teens with babies, and I assure you that not all of them will handle it as well as this girl is.

    • Litterboxjen

      “If Tiller were a ‘responsible’ young girl she never would have gotten
      pregnant in the first place. She either would have used a reliable
      birth control method or she would not have had sex. Period. End of
      discussion. She did neither and she got pregnant long before she was
      prepared for it.”

      First, you don’t know what birth control methods she was or wasn’t using, and whether or not they might’ve failed. My former manager got pregnant while on the pill and using condoms. Birth control fails sometimes.

      That said, she is in fact doing the responsible thing by taking caring of her son and making use of the support network available to her. She finished high school early, is going to college and is working more than 30 hours a week to make a life for her and her son.

      Exactly how is that being irresponsible? She is making the best out of the situation she is in, and I say good for her. I have a full-time job, a husband and a good support network, and I found being a mom hard as hell. I can’t imagine trying to finish school on top of that.

      And exactly what would shaming this woman accomplish? Would you rather she had dropped out of school, not worked, and maybe tried to apply for government assistance? Because I can confidently guarantee that if that was the article above, you’d be in here complaining about how this girl was so irresponsible to drop out and suck up your tax dollars when she should be going to school, working and trying to make a life for her and her son.

    • Alicia

      Wow, do we think alike or what?!? lol

    • Litterboxjen

      I had just come in to see what the reactions were since I posted, and bam, others on the same page as me. Yay!

      I’m not saying being pregnant at 16 is the best decision/situation someone can be in, but this girl is definitely making the best of things, and I think she deserves to have that recognized.

    • Alicia

      Just want to point out that you don’t know if she used a reliable birth control, that the method may have failed, or if she used nothing. That’s a very large judgement to make. Also, while she MAY have shown irresponsibility by getting pregnant as a teen, she IS being responsible now. Can you explain how having a photo with her child in the yearbook is damaging?? I mean, she was attending the school when she had her baby, so chances are, the students are already aware he exists.

      I was in my early twenties and unmarried when I had my son. 16 months later, I had my daughter. Their father and I have been in a relationship for over 11 years (straight, no on/off) and have always put their needs before ours. We are good parents. The fact that we weren’t married when they were born (we are now) has no bearing on the type of parent we are. Also, I might add, that I got pregnant both times while on the pill. My OB figured out that it probably wasn’t the right hormone for me, but obviously they couldn’t be certain.

      Whether this girl made a mistake or not, she’s doing the very best she can. Why are you shaming her? She’s already beating the odds (of teen moms) by graduating high school. Which is something that a high percentage of teenagers aren’t doing. She’s not telling everyone else to go and have a baby of their own. Seems to me, this girl is probably a better role model than a lot of teens her age.

    • http://twitter.com/TwAlexLee Alex Lee

      I’ve got a few questions in response:

      Would your view change if her child were the result of a rape?
      Which birth control method is 100% reliable?
      At what time DOES a girl become ready to be a mother? After you say some words in a church wearing a white dress?

      According to http://www.age-of-consent.info/states/North_Carolina, the age of consent is 16, so the law considers her not-a-girl but a woman able to make her own decisions independently.

      Teenage pregnancy is unfortunate, but this kind of shaming is not what anyone needs. I think treating her like a leper and telling the other teens to shun her is more “irresponsible and damaging” than publishing her picture.

      Let’s instead foster the pride she has in her family. She considers her child the most-important thing in her life right now. She’s a hard-working woman also pursuing her diploma. I applaud her.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Guerrilla Mom

      You took the words right out of my mouth!

    • Psych Student

      “Which birth control method is 100% reliable?” Oral sex, anal sex, sex between members of the same gender, mutual mastrubation, frotage, etc. :) Sorry, just had to answer the question.

    • http://twitter.com/TwAlexLee Alex Lee

      If pregnancy and subsequent birth is impossible, can you still consider it a method of birth CONTROL? Cold showers, listening to public radio, religious fundmentalists, and your mom would all qualify?

      I’m going by WebMD’s definition of birth control http://www.webmd.com/hw-popup/birth-control which focuses on contraception.

      Good on you for creativity.

    • Psych Student

      Very good point! Perhaps what I suggested were not options for birth control (and you’re right, but any definition, those don’t count), but ways to prevent pregnancy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

      People do irresponsible things all the time. It’s a matter of taking responsibility FOR that action, which she IS doing. She deserves to be commended. Being a parent is hard work at any age and her doing so and graduating early is quite an accomplishment. How do you know whether or not she was using BC? People get pregnant using condoms, pills and other devices all the time.

    • Kat

      One of my best friends got pregnant at 16 and gave the baby up for adoption. What say you to that, out of curiosity?

      I have three kids: one week, one year, and two years. Dad and I, ages 24 and 25, aren’t married. I’m self-employed and he works at a low wage. The first pregnancy occurred while on birth control, the second was planned, and the third was an accident. I don’t see a difference, and we’re just fine, thank you!

    • Kass21

      My best friend had a child our freshman year in high school. She graduated amf finished college. So pretty much what your saying is all girls who get pregnant at a very young age is a screw up and pretty much needs to just live a messed up life. Sorry but teen moms just like myself and adults like you when it comes to having a baby you have responsibilities. If a teen spreads there legs then let then face what happens. But anyone is responsible when it comes to having a baby. It’s people like you that give women and teens a bad name. What would you do if your child got pregnant at a young age make her kill it? Wow your so selfish!!!

    • Queenie Kimberly

      I bet you have no problem with the baby’s father being in the picture. I wouldn’t doubt he was standing there with his bat or a football, with not a care in the world. What is the sin here? It’s certainly NOT the baby. I’m so sick of girls being slut shamed while boys get a high fives. She messed up, but guess what? She has fixed that by having and raising her child and finishing high school. This young woman should be held up as a GOOD example. She not only FINISHED school while raising a child, she did it early AND started college. The school should be proud to put a picture of her and her child in it’s yearbook.

  • http://twitter.com/TwAlexLee Alex Lee

    I see a picture of a kid with a baseball mitt and glove…and immediately want to take Performance Enhancing Steroids.

    Lots of mental-gymnastics going on there.

  • chickadee

    Well that is precisely what I’d expect from a southern state, to be honest. I mean, I was having kind of high hopes for NC when I heard that they had made Carl Kasell their North Carolinian of the year, but I guess they still have a long way to go. Some conservative school districts, most of them in states with Republican governors, see that any generosity towards teen or expectant mothers is the same thing as condoning their actions, and teenagers are apparently so stupid that that approval would make them all get pregnant. Because it’s so much FUN. Besides, generosity towards teen mothers also condones SEX, and we can’t have that….

    • Rachel Sea

      It’s not just Southern states. I live in California and some districts here automatically expel pregnant girls and shunt them into an alternative high school or education program.

    • chickadee

      Ugh. I can understand providing a program that accommodates girls who are having difficult pregnancies and girls who need help with childcare, but they ought to be allowed to stay in the mainstream school if they wish.

    • jojowa

      shunting a teen into an alternative school for pregnancy is illegal. it provides separate and unequal education just like separating black and white students by previous generations. they are legally required to main stream them unless they request the alternative school.

    • Rachel Sea

      Some schools have an amazing ability to find “legitimate” reasons for expelling pregnant students. One of my relatives-in-law who is a teacher was crowing about it at a family gathering, how they have policies that technically apply to everyone, but which are only used against “teen whores.”

      Better schools have programs to help pregnant teens to stay in school, and be parents if that is their choice. My organization works with teen moms to teach them how to parent, and make sure they can graduate, and it is operated directly out of one of the mainstream high schools.

    • MorrisCoveMom

      That happens at almost every school. We have a secret special HS in my city, and it is for pregnant and teen moms. They are being removed from their schools to hide their sin, like a Victorian ideal.

    • smiavs

      I was born and raised in the south and my high school contained a daycare center that was open to both faculty and students. We had girls coming to our school from all over, so they could finish their education. Don’t get me wrong, our sex ed policy was the stupid “true love waits” method, but they didn’t shun responsibility when the most obvious outcome of their idiocy was realized. There are good and bad schools everywhere. It has less to do with the district or geography than with the teachers and administrators….

    • jojowa

      if they allowed a picture of a live dog, then they should have allowed a live baby. living props where allowed, so there is no difference between using a baby or a dog. the purpose of the props was to shows the students interest and outside activities. her outside activity was being a mother.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    I think seeing all the teen moms in my high school just made me want to run in the other direction. This girl’s child is extraordinarily important to her, why not commemorate this event in her life? Just because she’s young? That doesn’t stop her from being a good mom or good student. But oh noes, they might catch the pregnant, hide her away!

  • http://www.facebook.com/eryn.stilp Eryn Stilp

    HA!
    When I was a senior in high school, we had a record 27 pregnant girls. Complete opposite of this school, from the sounds of things >.<

  • Alex

    “Tiller says since the birth of her son in April of 2012, she’s worked harder in school and graduated early. She started college in January and works more than 30 hours a week at a part-time job all while also being teenage mom. Tiller says she gets a lot of support from her family and Leelin’s father.

    “He has helped me achieve my goal to graduate high school and go forward with my dreams,”

    This perception right here is probably what concerned the school so much; Tiller is suggesting that she may not have graduated and developed a stable work ethic had she not gotten pregnant. They are probably afraid that other teenage girls who are unsure about their own futures will see this and think “hey, maybe getting pregnant will help pull my life together so that I can achieve my dreams too!”

    By the way, I think that’s a shaky conclusion (not to mention a fairly pessimistic opinion of the students you are supposed to be educating and a HUGE missed opportunity to outline the consequences of teen pregnancy in a peer-based context) and I disagree with pulling the photo. But that’s probably where they were going with this.

    • Sid

      Ok so she made a promise when she had the baby “i will finish school” maybe? That being the case (or so i feel it is) her son reminded het of that promise, she wanted to keep thay promise. there is how her son could have helped her achieve her goals. chew on thay for a bit.

  • Joyce Astolfi Hallock

    I live in Pennsylvania and was kicked out of high school in my senior year because I was pregnant!!! Valley View High School as extremely uncooperative plus I actually had the librarian harassing me to give my baby to her neighbors that couldn’t get pregnant!!! I wasn’t even given the option of an alternative school because my school would have had to pay for/provide transportation and books!! It as crazy!!! I didn’t let I stop me though. I got my GED the summer right after I should have graduated!!

  • silverdreamgally

    if a picture promote teen pregnancy.. does that mean those stupid classes where they make the kids take care of a doll for a grade can too?

  • silverdreamgally

    if a picture promote teen pregnancy.. does that mean those stupid classes where they make the kids take care of a doll for a grade can too?

  • Meghan Carter

    Just because she’s a teen dose not mean she will be an irresponsible person or mother, there are many adult women out there who are no where near being mature enough to have children but they do and yet people don’t think as badly of them because they are adults. Age isnt always a factor of what kind of person or mother you are and I think she is doing the very best she can and doing it well.

  • Emily

    at my highschool we had a daycare built in im glad we didnt have to deal with bullshit like this

  • Debbie Palmer

    I don’t think the baby should have been included in the yearbook. She could have taken the pictures at her session, but chose one without the child to go in the yearbook. I remember a post where a mother was asking for opinions on a pose for her pregnant teen’s yearbook photo. There were poses with her belly exposed. I doubt the school would allow one of those either. If other, non pregnant girls can’t show that much skin, neither should an irresponsible, pregnant girl. This mother and her mother should have thought there could be an issue and ask before it was too late to submit a new photo.

  • Debbie Palmer

    I don’t think the baby should have been included in the yearbook. She could have taken the pictures at her session, but chose one without the child to go in the yearbook. I remember a post where a mother was asking for opinions on a pose for her pregnant teen’s yearbook photo. There were poses with her belly exposed. I doubt the school would allow one of those either. If other, non pregnant girls can’t show that much skin, neither should an irresponsible, pregnant girl. This mother and her mother should have thought there could be an issue and ask before it was too late to submit a new photo.

  • Why am I responding to this?

    Who cares? No one is going to pick up that book after a month anyway. She should just glue her own picture in the book, problem solved.