Kayla Kenney — Photo: Kimberly Alford
A private Christian school in Kentucky has expelled a student for “lifestyle violations,” after she was photographed wearing a rainbow sweater.
Kayla Kenney, a freshman at Whitefield Academy in Louisville, Ky., was photographed by her mother while celebrating her 15th birthday at a restaurant.
In the image uploaded by Kimberly Alford to social media, Kenney is wearing a sweater with a rainbow pattern and sitting in front of a large, rainbow birthday cake.
But after administrators at Whitefield caught wind of the photo, Kenney was told she would no longer be a student at the high school.
“She was happy, she looked beautiful,” Alford told WAVE 3 News. “You know, of course as a mom, I took her picture of her blowing out her candles and I posted that on my Facebook page.”
She said that Whitefield’s Head of School, Dr. Bruce Jacobson, contacted her a few days after the photo was posted, informing her that it was the latest incident in two years-worth of “lifestyle violations.”
In an email, Jacobson said Kenney’s attire and cake “demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs.”
Alford said: “I feel judged, she feels judged, just very devastating for us.”
According to WAVE 3, if a student’s off-campus behavior doesn’t align with the school’s conservative Christian values, the code of conduct allows for discipline.
The code of conduct states “the Academy’s belief in the Scriptural principal of marriage and as such believes that God intended for one man and one woman to be united in holy matrimony.”
Alford said she filed an appeal against the expulsion, as she is unclear why the school ruled the photo of her daughter warranted expulsion, beyond Kenney previously getting into trouble for using a vape.
She added that Kenney wasn’t deliberately showing support for LGBTQ people in the offending photo.
“It was a happy moment,” Alford said. “We were celebrating her 15th birthday. The day God gave me her. Not supporting any sexuality or anything like that.”
Alford noted that the cake receipt “didn’t say anything about [LGBTQ] representation, it just said assorted colors.”
The school reportedly refused to meet her after she submitted an appeal, but changed the expulsion to voluntary withdrawal to maintain Kenney’s student record. Kenney has now been enrolled in a public school.
In a statement to WAVE 3, Whitefield Academy said that Kenney was guilty of violating the student code of conduct “numerous times over the past two years.”
“In the fall, we met with the student to give her a final chance to begin to adhere to our code of conduct,” the school said. “Unfortunately, she did not live up to the agreement, and therefore, has been expelled.”
It added: “All parents who enroll their children in our private school know up front that we ask the students to adhere to a lifestyle informed by our Christian beliefs.”
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