Boys post Facebook kissing photos, school withholds diplomas

A school has denied six boys their diplomas after they posted photos on Facebook that made them look like they were kissing. After some negotiation, the boys will be allowed to graduate.

Infant Jesus Academy, a Catholic school in the Philippines, is withholding the high school diplomas of six of boys. The students, aged between 16 and 17, are accused of uploading pictures to Facebook in which they are allegedly kissing each other. The pictures in question were not taken on school premises but they do show the students wearing school uniforms.

The boys allege they were joking around by simply taking photographs to make it appear as if they were kissing. When they put them up on Facebook, they didn't realize they had set them to Public, meaning everyone could see them. School officials called the photos "damaging" to the institution's reputation and said students had violated their policies, which ban "any conduct inside or outside the campus which brings the student, his/her family and the school in disrepute."

Earlier this week, a different Catholic school in the Philippines banned girls from their graduation over Facebook photos of them wearing bikinis. Yesterday, a court ordered the school to allow the five female students to attend graduation ceremonies.

Back to the boys who were supposedly kissing. The school confirmed today they will be able to graduate but will not be able to get their diplomas. Previously, they weren't even allowed to graduate, but thankfully the Department of Education (DepEd) intervened yesterday.

"They can march but the release of their diploma will be delayed," Samuel Mergenio, Division Planning Officer of DepEd, told the Inquirer. "We took the initiative and talked to the school who allowed the students to march. They will also be recognized as graduates."

This is good news. Because the education department talked to officials of Infant Jesus Academy, the boys will have a much easier time. Even without their diplomas, they can enroll in the universities, as the school will give them special certification to do so. The diplomas are just a bit of bureaucracy, but I'm sure the boys will be happy nonetheless when they receive them, assuming they do eventually.

One of the boys' parent quoted Infant Jesus Academy chancellor Peter Mallonga as saying the school diploma is "sacred." She claimed: "For them, the school diploma is sacred. They will give it to the students as the punishment will not be for life. But it will take two years, three years, four years, even eight years."

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