Kimberly Alford didn’t think twice about posting a photo of her 15-year-old daughter Kayla Kenney blowing out candles on a rainbow birthday cake.
“She looked so happy,” Alford told TODAY Parents. “I just wanted to share that.”
The picture in question would ultimately lead to Kenney’s expulsion from Whitefield Academy in Louisville, Kentucky.
Last week, Alford was contacted by the Christian institution’s head of school, Dr. Bruce Jacobson, informing her that Kenney would have to finish her freshman year somewhere else.
“The WA Administration has been made aware of a recent picture, posted on social media, which demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs,” Jacobson’s email read in part. “Per our in-person meeting on October 17, 2019, we made it clear that any further promotion, celebration, or any other actions and attitudes that are counter to Whitefield’s philosophy would not be tolerated.”
In the letter, Jacobson attached the Facebook picture, which shows Kenney in a rainbow sweater posing next to her rainbow cake. While rainbow flag is a symbol of LGTBQ pride, Kenney was not making a statement about her sexuality. Alford was the one who ordered cake.
“The school pinned Kayla as gay,” Alford said. Alford, a dental assistant, claims that after Kenney got an undercut, Whitefield Academy administration told her she could no longer wear ponytails. She said they also gave Kenney a book by Jackie Hill-Perry, a Christian activist who writes about how she stopped being gay when she found God.
Though Alford wrote an appeal letter, Whitefield Academy is standing by its decision.
“Inaccurate media reports are circling stating that the student in question was expelled from our school solely for a social media post,” a spokesperson told TODAY Parents in a statement. “In fact, she has unfortunately violated our student code of conduct numerous times over the past two years.”
Alford doesn’t deny that Kenney has had disciplinary issues, noting that her child cut lunch and was caught with a vape. But she insists Kenney has been on the right track since they had a sit-down meeting with administration in October.
“Kayla is no angel. But she was really trying to clean up her behavior. Her grades went up and she’s been doing so well,” Alford told TODAY Parents. “I want justice for my daughter. This is not how God treats people."