A 15-year-old girl was expelled from her high school in Kentucky after celebrating her birthday with a rainbow sweater and cake.
Kayla Kenney celebrated her 15th birthday at a local restaurant. Her mom, Kimberly Alford, posted a photo of her with the rainbow sweater and cake on Facebook.
“She was happy; she looked beautiful,” Alford told NBC affiliate WAVE. “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.”
Soon after, Dr. Bruce Jacobson, the head of Whitefield Academy, saw the picture and contacted Alford.
“It was an email expelling Kayla from Whitefield immediately due to a post on social media,” Alford said. “I feel judged, she feels judged, just very devastating for us.”
Alford notes that the rainbows weren’t an intentional statement on LGBTQ equality. She even checked the receipt for the cake and noted that it simply said “assorted colors.”
But Jacobson wrote that the photo “demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs.” The email also says it was one of many “lifestyle violations” by Kenney over the course of her two years at Whitefield.
In a Tuesday interview, Alford said that her daughter had been on probation since October for violations such as cutting class. While school administrators insist that the expulsion wasn’t about Kenney’s “sexuality,” Alford says that some students were uncomfortable with Kenney’s “perceived sexuality.”
Alford adds that a school counselor gave Kenney the book “Gay Girl, Good God” by Jackie Hill Perry, a book about an ex-lesbian who claims God saved her from being gay. Kenney and the counselor met weekly to go over the book.
Whitefield’s code of conduct has a policy against “homosexual orientation” and says that students can be disciplined for off-campus behavior.
Alford attempted to appeal the expulsion. Whitefield agreed to change it to a “voluntary withdrawal” so that it won’t appear on Kenney’s record.