‘Lifestyle violation’: 9th grader expelled over Facebook birthday photo with rainbow cake, T-shirt

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LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (FOX8) — A Kentucky ninth-grader has been expelled from her private school over a photo posted to her mother’s Facebook page caught the attention of administrators.

Freshman Kayla Kenney celebrated her 15th birthday with family at a restaurant in late December. A photo from that day shows her smiling and wearing a rainbow top with a 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,” said her mother, Kimberly Alford.

The post was shared with staff at Kayla’s school. A few days later, Kimberly was contacted by the head of the 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,” she said.

The school claims the photo is the latest in two years’ worth of “lifestyle violations.” In an email, Jacobson said the picture quote 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, they can be disciplined. Kimberly wants to know how the shirt brought them to that conclusion.

“She loves to laugh and dance and that’s just her,” she said. “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.”

Kimberly 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 Kayla’s record. Kimberly fears feeling the 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,” said Kimberly.

The Kentucky 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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