9th grader expelled over Facebook birthday photo with rainbow cake, T-shirt

National

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CNN) — A Kentucky ninth grader was expelled from her private school over a photo posted to her mother’s Facebook page caught the attention of administrators.

It was a happy moment for freshman Kayla Kenney. She was celebrating her 15th birthday with family at a restaurant in late December. Her big smile, rainbow top and colorful birthday cake were captured in a photo.

“She was happy, she looked beautiful! 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,” said Kayla’s mother, Kimberly Alford told WAVE.

The post was shared with staff at Whitefield Academy, a private Christian school in Louisville, and was apparently the last straw. A few days later, Alford was contacted by Head of School Dr. Bruce Jacobson.

“It was an email expelling Kayla from Whitefield immediately due to a post on social media. I feel judged, she feels judged, very just devastating for us,” said Alford.

The school calls the colorful birthday cake and rainbow on her shirt the latest in two years worth of ‘lifestyle violations.’ In the email, Dr. Jacobson said the picture ‘demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs.’

“We made it clear that any further promotion, celebration or any other action and attitudes counter to Whitefield’s philosophy will not be tolerated,” the letter said.

The code of conduct does address sexual orientation and says if a student’s off-campus behavior isn’t in line with the school’s beliefs, they can be disciplined.

Alford wants to know how the shirt brought them to that conclusion.

“Rainbows don’t mean you’re a certain gender or certain sex or sexuality,” Alford told The Washington Post.

“She loves to laugh and dance and that’s just her! There was nothing intended by that and even when I went back and got the receipt from the bakery, it didn’t say anything about representation it just said assorted colors,” said Alford.

She filed an appeal. She said the school refused to meet with her, but they agreed to change the expulsion to a voluntary withdrawal so it’s not on her record anymore.

Even so, Alford fears feeling this level of judgement could have a permanent impact on her child.

“You know we teach our kids what would Jesus do, what would he do here?”

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