A mom is alleging that a Christian high school in Louisville, Kentucky, expelled her teen daughter for posing next to a rainbow cake on her birthday. The school is defending its decision, saying the teen violated their code of conduct numerous times.
Kimberly Alford describes her 15-year-old daughter Kayla Kenney as a humorous, outgoing young girl who loves music and loves to dance. Kenney celebrated her birthday on her December 30th, and Alford posted a picture of her wearing a sweater with rainbow stripes posing next to a brightly colored birthday cake.
A week later, Alford said she received an email from the head of her daughter’s high school, Bruce Jacobson. In the email, Alford said Jacobson wrote that Kenney been terminated over a social media post. The email had that picture of Kenney and the cake attached to it, she said. The family also received a statement that she was being “dismissed” over a “continued breach of the [school’s] code of conduct.”
The rainbow flag and color is a symbol of the LGBTQ community. But Alford told BuzzFeed News, “This is not about sexuality, this is not about being gay. This is about me celebrating my daughter’s birthday with her.” Alford told The Courier Journal, which first reported on the expulsion, that her daughter does not identify as a member of the LGBTQ community.
Alford says school authorities told her she “represented gay pride” when she bought the cake and that she should have refused it when she saw the colors. She added that she is not sure who may have shared the picture with the school, but that she’s friends with other parents, staff members, and teachers on Facebook.
Kenney had been a student at Whitefield Academy, a private Christian school that serves students from preschool through 12th grade, since the 6th grade. The academic guidelines shared on the school’s website state “the mission of Whitefield Academy is to serve Christian families by providing a Christ-centered, Biblically based education marked by academic excellence and spiritual vitality.”
It adds: “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.”
Alford shared that her daughter had past disciplinary issues with the school involving a haircut, missing classes, and e-cigarettes. She faced suspension last fall over vaping and was put on probation. Kenney met with disciplinary officers in October. Alford says there had been no academic or behavioral issues since.
In a separate incident Alford alleges that the school recommended her daughter read “Gay Girl, Good God”, a book about a former lesbian who turned away from homosexuality after embracing religion. Whitefield Academy did not respond to questions asking to confirm this.
Jacobson did not respond to a request for comment about Alford’s allegations. In a more general statement shared with BuzzFeed News, the school stated that the reports that Kenney had been expelled over a social media post is “inaccurate” and her expulsion was due to her violating the “student code of conduct numerous times over the past two years.”
The statement added that, “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…It is unfortunate that one of the student’s parents chose to post internal family matters on social media, and we hope our former student is not adversely affected by what her parents chose to make public about her situation.”
Whitefield Academy didn’t respond to any questions asking to elaborate on the extent to which the picture influenced their decision to expel her or about the “numerous” violations of the code of conduct referred to in the statement.
Alford appealed the decision but her appeal was denied. She says she’s “looking into some things” as far as taking further steps against the school is involved.