Yesterday during a school assembly at Toppenish High School in Washington, Gaby Rodriguez revealed a jaw-dropping secret. Everyone had already dealt with the shock of the 17-year-old A-student getting pregnant, but they weren't prepared for Gaby to pull the "baby bump" she wore for six and a half months out of her shirt.
In what is undoubtedly the greatest school project of all time, Gaby faked a teen pregnancy to study how the community would react. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports that Gaby came up with the idea during an AP Biology class she took during her sophomore year. Last spring, after convincing her mother to go along with the plan, she told Principal Trevor Green what she wanted to do for her senior project, an assignment required for graduation. With the approval of Green and the superintendent, and help from two mentors at the local hospital's childbirth education program, she started telling people that she got pregnant at homecoming.
For the project to work Gaby had to lie to almost everyone, which her mother says "didn't feel good." She only told her best friend and one of her seven siblings that she wasn't really pregnant. And of course, her boyfriend of three years, 20-year-old Jorge Orozco. From the Herald-Republic:
When Gaby told him her plan, "I thought she was nuts," the 2009 Toppenish High School graduate says. "I thought I was going to end up getting into problems with her brothers. I didn't really want to get into problems with anybody."
But, "I was doing it for her," he says, adding, "My parents thought it was going to be a boy."
After wearing a homemade prosthetic belly for months and telling people she was due on July 27, Gaby stood before the student body yesterday to give a presentation on "Stereotypes, rumors, and statistics." The Herald-Republic reports:
"Teenagers tend to live in the shadows of these elements," she says.
Before taking off her fake baby belly in front of the entire student body, Gaby told her audience, "Many things were said about me. Many things traveled all the way back to me."
Then, she asked several students and teachers to read statements from 3x5 cards, quotes people actually said about her during the course of her experiment.
Her best friend, Saida Cortes, a 17-year-old senior who was sitting in the front row, read card No. 3: "Her attitude is changing, and it might be because of the baby or she was always this annoying and I never realized it."
It grew quiet in the gym as more and more quotes were read aloud. Then Gaby dropped her bomb: "I'm fighting against those stereotypes and rumors because the reality is I'm not pregnant."
After the presentation, Gaby got a standing ovation. She's using photos and video from the assembly as part of a report she'll present to a board of community members in May. Gaby will attend Columbia Basin College in the fall and plans to study social work or sociology. Clearly she's an incredibly committed student, as most teens wouldn't dream of subjecting themselves to months of criticism for a social experiment. We hope to hear more about Gaby's findings, which we're guessing will explain how pregnant teens are stigmatized better than MTVs cameras ever could.
Pregnot: Toppenish High Student Fakes Pregnancy As Social Test About Stereotypes, Rumors [Yakima Herald-Republic]
Image via GORDON KING/Yakima Herald-Republic.