Christian High School Expels Student for Rainbow Birthday Party, Cites "Lifestyle Violation"

Robin Zlotnick - Author

Jul. 1 2023, Updated 8:08 a.m. ET

Kayla Kenney, a 15-year-old girl from Kentucky, was recently expelled from her private Christian high school because she dared to wear a rainbow shirt and pose in front of a rainbow-decorated cake for her birthday. According to Kayla's mom, Kimberly, the school claimed Kayla's actions were a "lifestyle violation."

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Kayla was a freshman at Whitefield Academy in Louisville, Kentucky when she turned 15, reports WAVE News. For her birthday, she went out to dinner with her family. Her mom snapped a photo of her with her cake and posted it to social media. 

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"She was happy; she looked beautiful," Kimberly told WAVE News. "You know, of course as a mom, I took a picture of her blowing out her candles and I posted that on my Facebook page." They didn't think anything of it.

But the post was shared with Whitefield Academy and, just a few days later, they were informed Kayla had been expelled. The Head of School, Dr. Bruce Jacobson, emailed Kimberly letting her know Kayla was expelled immediately "due to a post on social media." Kimberly told WAVE, "I feel judged, she feels judged, just very devastating to us." 

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In the email, Dr. Jacobson wrote that Kayla's picture "demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy's belief." God forbid high schoolers learn "cultural acceptance," right? 

The school claims that's not the whole story, though. They say the photo is just "the latest in two years' worth of 'lifestyle violations.'" In a statement made to NBC News, Whitefield Academy said, "Inaccurate media reports are circling stating that the student in question was expelled from our school solely for a social media post. In the fall, we met with the student to give her a final chance to begin to adhere to our code of conduct. Unfortunately, she did not live up to the agreement, and therefore, has been expelled."

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So the last straw was a picture of a smiling girl wearing a colorful shirt sitting in front of a colorful cake? This doesn't make the school look any better. In 2020, if you are still spouting anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs and teaching children to do the same, you deserve to be publicly shamed on the internet. 

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Kimberly told NBC News that Kayla had been on probation for "some behavioral issues" like cutting class and getting caught with an e-cigarette. But it was the rainbow shirt that put the school over the edge. They claimed their decision had nothing to do with Kayla's "sexuality," but Kimberly did tell NBC News that "some students were uncomfortable with her daughter's 'perceived sexuality.'"

According to her, a school counselor gave Kayla a book called Gay Girl, Good God by an author who claims God stopped her from being a lesbian. Kayla had to meet weekly with the counselor to discuss the book before she was expelled. 

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Whitefield Academy's student handbook says, "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." 

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Sounds like Kayla dodged a real bullet if you ask me. She's been enrolled in public school and is "adjusting" to it well. While the school refused to meet with Kimberly (who didn't think her daughter should be held accountable for a cake her mom ordered), they did agree to change her expulsion to a "voluntary withdrawal" so it wouldn't go on her record. 

Whitefield Academy isn't the first religious school to discriminate against LGBTQ+ folks, and unfortunately, it won't be the last. Kimberly told NBC News that she decided to go public with this story because she wanted to stand up for her kid. "Just treat people with kindness and love," she said, "and don't be judgmental."

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