Gaby Rodriguez and her “baby bump.” Image from Associated Press.

Gaby Rodriguez gave up her senior year. While her classmates at Toppenish High School in Washington were preparing for prom, getting ready to go to college, or considering jobs for after graduation, she was attending prenatal appointments and considering if she would be able to attend college, let alone to graduate high school.

Except Gaby Rodriguez wasn’t pregnant. It was a grand-scale social experiment that she performed as part of her senior project, entitled “Stereotypes, Rumors and Statistics.” With a 3.8 GPA and plans to attend college, Gaby surprised a lot of people when she became “pregnant.” Only a handful of people knew the truth, including her mother, the principal of her high school, two advisers from the¬†Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital’s Childbirth Education Program, her best friend, and her boyfriend of 3 years. The truth was kept from nearly everyone else, including Gaby’s siblings and the parents of her boyfriend.

As her belly grew, Gaby learned a lot of things. How people whispered behind her back. How people treated her differently, were disappointed in her. And how Latina and black teens have a higher pregnancy rate than that of white teens. 51% of Latina girls become pregnant before they’re 20 years old, compared to 30% overall. As 85% of the students at Toppenish are Hispanic, this hit especially close to Gaby.

After six months, ¬†Gaby shared her findings‚Äìand the truth‚Äìin a school-wide assembly. As students and teachers read out statements that had been said about Gaby over the previous six months, the gym where the assembly was held grew quiet. Then Gaby removed her homemade “baby bump” and announced, “I’m fighting against those stereotypes and rumors because the reality is I’m not pregnant.” The assembly ended with a standing ovation for Gaby. And though some may be hurt that Gaby lied to them, and others thankful that she’s not actually pregnant, everyone admires the courage it took for her to undertake this project.

You can watch a video on Gaby and her project here.

-Katie Weidmann
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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