A Kentucky teen was expelled over photo of rainbow birthday cake and colorful sweater that 'kind of represent gay pride'

insider@insider.com (Emily Cavanagh)
Kayla Kenney

Kayla Kenney

  • A Christian school in Louisville, Kentucky expelled Kayla Kenney, 15, after officials came across a photo on Facebook of her wearing a colorful sweater and serving a rainbow birthday cake, Wave3 News reported. 
  • Officials said that the photo appeared to portray 'gay pride,' but Kayla told Insider that the cake was just supposed to be 'bright, colorful, and cute.'
  • In a letter sent to her parents, school officials said that Kayla had been dismissed due to her 'continued breach' of the school's 'code of conduct,' according to Wave3 News.
  • Kimberly Alford, Kayla's mother, appealed the school's decision — but it was rejected. 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more.

A Christian high school in Louisville, Kentucky has defended its decision to expel a freshman student earlier this month for wearing a sweater with multi-colored stripes and serving a rainbow-themed cake at her 15th birthday celebration. School officials said they disapproved of her dessert and clothing choices that "kind of represent gay pride," ABC News reported. 

When Whitefield Academy came across the celebratory photo posted to Facebook from student Kayla Kenney's 15th birthday party, officials at the school took swift action.

The assistant principal and head of school emailed the teenager's parents on Jan. 6, and notified them that Kayla had been dismissed due to a "continued breach" of the school's "code of conduct," Wave3 News reported. In a statement released to ABC News, Whitefield Academy said that the photo — which they interpreted to have LGBTQ themes  — was just part of the reason why the teenager was kicked out. 

But Kayla told Insider that she wasn't trying to make a statement with the choices she made for her party.

A teen who was expelled over a 'gay pride' rainbow cake said the dessert had no overt meaning to it

The cake was just supposed be "something bright, colorful, and cute," Kayla told Insider. "If I really wanted it to mean something, I would have asked for it to say 'pride' or 'lesbian.' I would have asked for more decorations to celebrate myself than that."

But according to officials, when students enroll at Whitefield, it's known that they are "expected to adhere to a lifestyle informed by our Christian beliefs," the school said in its statement to ABC News. Kayla's cake and sweater, in their opinion, violated those beliefs. 

Kayla Kenney

Kayla Kenney

But Kayla sees her expulsion as the only event in this controversy that went against religion. 

"That's not what God would do," Kayla told Insider. 

The school said that Kayla's 'perceived sexuality' made other students feel uncomfortable

Kayla had been on probation since October for a few incidents, including skipping class and getting caught using an e-cigarette, according to NBC News. At that time, administrators told Kayla's mom, Kimberly Alford, that her daughter's sexual orientation wasn't a part of the school's decision to put the teen on probation. However, the school noted that Kayla's "perceived sexuality" didn't sit well with students. 

Prior to getting expelled, a school counselor gave Kayla a book called, "Gay Girl, Good God," written by a woman who identified as a lesbian, but said she was able to stop being gay with the help of God, according to NBC News. Kayla had been meeting with the counselor weekly to discuss the book. 

Kayla's mother appealed the expulsion, but officials wouldn't meet with her

Alford has appealed the school's decision, but Whitefield Academy said it's unwilling to meet with her, Wave3 News reported. The school was willing to clear Kayla's record by changing the reason behind her departure from "expulsion" to "voluntary withdrawal."

Kayla told Insider that she's "moved on" from the issue already, and feels emboldened by the number of people who have encouraged her. 

"So many people in this world can hate," Kayla told Insider. "But there are so many more people that are going to support you and accept you for who you are." 

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