- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2014

A public high school in Mesa, Ariz., is facing criticism for dedicating two full pages in this year’s yearbook to teen parents.

The spread, titled “I’m working a double shift,” features the photos and a description of how difficult it is to be a parent and attend high school at the same time, The Republic reported.

Parents of students at Mesa High School, just 20 miles east of Phoenix, have been expressing their concern that the photos glamorize teen pregnancies.

Kathee Merkley has a 17-year-old daughter and a foreign exchange student enrolled at the school, and said the photos offended them.

She said a group of students in her home recently made statements like, “I already glued the pages together in my yearbook” and “Not appropriate for a high school yearbook,” The Republic reported.

Miss Merkley told the newspaper that she was particularly disturbed by a photo showing a male student embracing the pregnant belly of a female student.

“When you look at the pages at first you think it is of a child development class,” she said. “But then if you look closer you see the photo of the boy hugging the belly. I think that was unnecessary.”

Other parents interviewed said the yearbook pages were representative of the troubles teens face.

While Principal Jim Souder was reportedly fielding angry phone calls regarding the photos, Mesa schools governing board president Mike Hughes and member Ben Whiting said they had not heard any complaints, The Republic reported.

Mesa Public Schools spokeswoman Helen Hollands said Mesa High is “100 percent behind” the expectant students, but she agreed that the photos weren’t entirely appropriate for high school yearbook.

“A yearbook is to commemorate the achievements of the students, particularly the senior class,” she told the newspaper. “Probably this would not fall into that category.”

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