Family: 15-year-old student expelled over rainbow shirt, birthday cake

A Kentucky ninth-grader has been expelled from her private school over a photo posted to her mother’s Facebook that caught the attention of administrators.

Kayla Kenney’s rainbow-colored birthday cake and shirt were a “lifestyle violation,” according to Whitefield Academy officials.

Kenney was celebrating her 15th birthday at a restaurant with her family in late December with a smile on her face. She was wearing a rainbow top and was photographed sitting with her colorful birthday cake.

“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,” Kimberly Alford told WAVE-TV.

The post was shared with staff at Kenney’s school and Whitefield Academy acted quickly in expelling her.

A few days later, Alford says she was contacted by Dr. Bruce Jacobson, who serves as head of the academy.

“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,” Alford said.

The private school claims the picture was the latest in two years worth of “lifestyle violations.”

In the email, Jacobson said, the picture “demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs.”

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, then they can be subject to discipline

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

“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,” Alford said.

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

Alford fears feeling this level of judgment could have a permanent impact on her child.

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

The school is pushing back, calling it “inaccurate” that the student was expelled solely for the social media post.

The school released a statement, saying in part, “it is unfortunate that the 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.”

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