The parents of Kayla Kenney, a Kentucky teen who was expelled after school officials disapproved of her colorful birthday celebration, have filed a lawsuit against the school, NBC News reports.
As NewNowNext previously reported, Whitefield Academy, a private Christian school in Louisville, kicked out the freshman upon discovering that she had celebrated her 15th birthday at a restaurant while wearing a rainbow sweater and eating a rainbow-colored cake.
The lawsuit contends that Whitefield singled out and expelled Kenney, referred to as “K.K.” in court documents, because of her “perceived sexuality.”
“Essentially, the school expelled K.K. because they believed that K.K. was gay. As such, in Whitefield’s view, it would be difficult to ’achieve the goal of [K.K.] becoming Christ-like,'” the suit alleges. “In so doing, Whitefield invaded K.K.’s privacy, defamed K.K., breached its contract with K.K.’s parents Kimberly Alford and Mike Kenney, and inflicted serious emotional distress on K.K. Certainly, in 2020 it is unbelievable that conversations like this one are still occurring—and that lawsuits like this one are still necessary.”
“She was happy; she looked beautiful,” Alford told local NBC affiliate WAVE 3 News about her daughter’s birthday. “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.”
Alford was contacted a few days later by Whitefield’s head of school, Dr. Bruce Jacobson. “It was an email expelling Kayla from Whitefield immediately due to a post on social media,” Alford said. “I feel judged, she feels judged, just very devastating for us.”
Jacobson explained that the post “demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs.” The school leader also said the photo was the latest in Kenney’s “lifestyle violations;” according to her mother, Kenney previously got in trouble for cutting class and vaping.
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Whitefield’s code of conduct, which opposes “homosexual orientation,” states that if a student’s off-campus behavior does not align with the school’s biblical beliefs, that student may be disciplined.
But Alford argues that her daughter does not even identify as a member of the LGBTQ community. “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,” she said. “We were celebrating her 15th birthday. Not supporting any sexuality or anything like that.”
Alford also said that during her daughter’s probation, a school counselor gave Kenney the book Gay Girl, Good God by “ex-gay” author Jackie Hill Perry.
After Alford filed an appeal, Whitefield agreed to record Kenney’s expulsion as a voluntary withdrawal so that it would not appear on her permanent record.
Whitefield responded to requests for further comment with the following statement: “Inaccurate media reports are circling stating that the student in question was expelled from our school solely for a social media post. In fact, she has unfortunately violated our student code of conduct numerous times over the past two years. 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.”
“I just want to defend her in a graceful way. I want to stand up for my child,” Alford says of the lawsuit. “Just treat people with kindness and love, and don’t be judgmental.”
Kenney is now attending a local public school.