The stigma test

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

[This post is part of a Mama’s Day Series by The Strong Families Initiative. To follow all of the Mama's Day events, visit us on Facebook and Twitter.]

By Lisa Russ

Toppenish, WA high school senior Gaby Rodriguez
I spent some time today thinking about stigma. I talked with the always fabulous Adriann Barboa of Young Women United about her experiences as a young mom, and she described the stigma she faced, and how that affected her heart, soul, and decisions about how to parent and live her life.  She felt people's low expectations of her....and was determined to prove them wrong. She started her sophomore year of college just one week after her son was born, proving that she wasn't walking away from the life that she had known, but rather stepping into a new life with it's own challenges and rewards.

I finally had a chance today to read some of the buzz about Gaby Rodiguez and her experiment—you may have heard she faked a pregnancy during her senior year of high school to measure how her classmates, friends, teachers and advisors would respond.  Only her mother, boyfriend, best friend and principal knew the truth.  For more on her story, go to The Yakima Herald-Republic.

The thing that Adriann said to me that really stuck with me was, "Stigma doesn't prevent teen pregnancies.  It makes people feel isolated, and gets in their way of reaching out for help."

Thanks to Gaby for her commitment to good science, for going deeply into this experiment, and bringing stigma into the spotlight.

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