A Christian school in Kentucky has reportedly expelled one of its students after administrators saw a photo of her posing with a rainbow-colored birthday cake.
The situation unfolded after Kimberly Alford shared a photo of her daughter, Kayla, celebrating her 15th birthday, WAVE-TV reported. Alford posted the photo, which shows Kayla smiling while wearing a rainbow-patterned sweatshirt and sitting in front of a similarly multicolored cake, to her Facebook page.
"She was happy. She looked beautiful," Alford told WAVE-TV. "Of course, as a mom, I took her picture blowing out her candles, and I posted that on my Facebook page."
Alford said the image, shared on Dec. 30, was later seen by administrators at Whitefield Academy, the private, Christian school where Kayla was a freshman. A week later, Alford allegedly received an email from Dr. Bruce Jacobson — Whitfield's head of school — telling her that Kayla had been expelled specifically due to the photo.
"The [school] 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," the letter, obtained by NBC News, said. "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. As a result, we regret to inform you that Kayla is being dismissed from the school immediately."
Rainbows have various meanings in popular culture, but the rainbow flag — also known as the Pride Flag —has been a symbol of LGBTQ activism and support since the late '70s. Alford stated that her daughter is not gay, telling USA Today that she simply bought the cake for its assorted decorative colors.
However, she said in an interview with NBC News that Kayla had previously been put on probation at school for issues that "in a roundabout way" related to her "perceived sexuality." For example, Alford claims that a school counselor even gave Kayla the book "Gay Girl, Good God," whose author, Jackie Hill Perry, has stated that God stopped her from being gay.
"I feel judged, she feels judged — it's just very devastating for us," Alford told WAVE-TV.
The school, meanwhile, has said that Kayla's expulsion had nothing to do with her perceived sexual identity, saying the 15-year-old was instead kicked out for "two years of continuous violations of our student code of conduct." That behavior reportedly includes cutting class and being caught with an e-cigarette.
"All the families of students know that they have expectations they need to [follow]," Jacobson told USA Today. "We always try to work with families over a period of time."
But Alford says that her daughter hasn't gotten in any trouble since October, when the school said it was putting her "on probation."
"She did nothing wrong," Alford told USA Today. 'There have been no disciplinary issues. There have been no academic issues. There has been nothing."
Alford also said that the family tried to appeal Kayla's expulsion, but were denied. Instead, her daughter started class at a public school last Friday, where Alford said the 15-year-old is still adjusting to her new environment.