Anderson Bonilla, a yearbook editor from Virginia, decided that he wanted to represent different groups of his fellow students and their varying experiences as part of this year’s edition. Among the topics covered is the journey of the school’s teenage mothers. Bonilla included a two-page layout featuring Instagram images shared by a fellow student, 17-year-old Hannah Talbert, taken as she documented her pregnancy.
Mount Vernon Principal Esther Manns “raised concerns” about the images during her review. Bonilla said he was told the spread will not be allowed, and is seeking the assistance of the Student Press Law Center to challenge what he believes is a violation of his First Amendment rights.
“We want to show the real world of what Mount Vernon is,” Bonilla told the Washington Post. “We wanted to report something worth knowing. We are actually giving a realistic view of what these girls go through.”
Talbert was more than glad to share her personal journey for the yearbook. “I think that it’s important to be in there because there are a lot of teen moms at our school, and it’s a really big misconception that you can’t be successful or happy anymore,” she told ABC News.
Talbert, who gave birth to her son Logan seven months ago, is proud that she is handling a full load of International Baccalaureate courses at school while raising her son. Her parents, who are providing considerable financial assistance and a lot of babysitting help, not only support their daughter but are on the side of Bonilla and his decision to share Hannah’s story.
Talbert’s mom said, “A lot of teen moms drop out of school, and she’s trying to show that you can still go to school and get an education. Going to school full-time and doing all that stuff, yes, it’s hard, but she’s still doing it and she’s doing it successfully.”
“I’m kind of disappointed that the school wanted to take it out. Hannah’s not the only kid who has had to face this. She’s taking it head-on,” her father added.
A school spokesman has said that a final decision has been made yet.
Yahoo Parenting spoke with pediatrician Sophia Yen to get her thoughts on whether a teen pregnancy spread in a yearbook is helpful or harmful. She says that the problem is that it presents the likelihood of a mixed message:
Shows like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom have actually helped reduce teen pregnancy rates because they show the dark side. They show the boyfriend leaving them and how the teen moms want to go do something but they can’t because they have to take care of their kid, who is snotty and crying.
Yen believes that an appropriate balance should be taken if this topic is approached in a yearbook setting:
Praise and commend the teen moms for making lemonade out of lemons by continuing to go to school. If you are pregnant, definitely don’t drop out — this is the best thing you can possibly do. But not everyone has their parents’ support to do that. Make it clear that this isn’t a desired path, that there are things they missed out on and that they wish they hadn’t done things this way. Otherwise, you’re glamorizing teen pregnancy and normalizing it — and that’s not what we want to do.
Hannah plans to further her education at Penn State as a stepping stone towards a career as a surgeon.
As for appearing in the yearbook, Talbert said, “I don’t think I’ll regret it. That would be like saying I regret having my son, and I don’t.”