AFTER a picture was posted on social media showing Kayla Kenney celebrating her 15th birthday with a ‘rainbow’ cake, faith-based Whitefield Academy in Louisville, Kentucky, decided that the photo demonstrated ‘a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs’ – and last week it expelled the girl.
The girl’s mother, Kimberly Alford, above, who posted the picture on her Facebook page, then received an email from the private academy’s head, Bruce Jacobson, explaining that her daughter was being expelled:
Immediately due to a post on social media.
Jacobson said the move followed two years of “lifestyle violations” committed by the girl.
But Alford said her daughter is not gay and the cake was simply a fun treat, with the bakery receipt showing that they had provided a cake with “bright color rosettes – assorted.”
Alford added that the Whitefield Academy Parent Teacher Fellowship has even featured a rainbow image on its private Facebook page before later taking it down after the expulsion of her daughter.
In a Wave3News TV report, Alford said her daughter was “devastated” by the school’s judgmental stance, and that it jumped to the conclusion that she was gay.
Jacobson wouldn’t say whether the photo of the rainbow cake and shirt led to the expulsion but said the girl had faced “a progression of discipline.”
All the families of students know that they have expectations they need to (follow). We always try to work with families over a period of time.
Alford said her daughter wears “tomboy-type clothing” from time to time and has always been athletic, but the photo of her with the rainbow cake and outfit:
Meant nothing. She did nothing wrong.
Alford said she and her daughter had met with school officials last October and that a school disciplinary officer found Juul pods, a form of e-cigarettes, in the girl’s backpack.Following the meeting, Alford said everyone agreed that her daughter:
Would be on probation. Any other behavior issues could cause her to be expelled. Since October, there have been no disciplinary issues. There have been no academic issues. There has been nothing.
According to Whitefield Academy’s parent/student handbook, high school students may face expulsion “when there is a serious departure from the school’s guidelines” for student conduct.
A section on student behaviour says Whitefield’s:
Biblical role is to work in conjunction with the home to mold students to be Christ-like. On occasion, the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home may be counter or in opposition to the biblical lifestyle the school teaches. This includes, but is not limited to, sexual immorality, homosexual orientation or the inability to support Biblical standards of right and wrong
… In such cases, the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission of an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student.
Alford said her appeal against the expulsion was denied. She said Jacobson told her the cake and the sweater “just kind of represents gay pride” and that Alford:
Should have refused the cake.
Chris Hartman, above, Executive Director of the Fairness Campaign, a Louisville-based LGBTQ advocacy organisation, said if the photo factored into the student’s expulsion, then the school’s action:
Seems incredibly outrageous.
But he noted that Whitefield Academy, which is affiliated with Highview Baptist Church, has the authority to expel students who may go against its religious beliefs because of exemptions for faith-based schools in Louisville’s Fairness Ordinance.
Hartman pointed out that a rainbow does not solely represent LGBTQ movements but is also mentioned in the Bible’s Book of Genesis as a symbol of God’s covenant with Noah following the flood.
So the idea that they would eject someone for the simple display of a rainbow is ludicrous.
Jacobson said he told the girl’s family that the expulsion could instead be classified as a “voluntary withdrawal” on her record if she applies to other schools.
Alford said that, while she believed that Whitefield had a positive impact on her daughter, who is now attending another school, the academy is imposing religious beliefs that are:
Very judgmental. That’s not what I wanted for her.