Home/Rod Dreher/Rainbow Cake Girl: The True Story

Rainbow Cake Girl: The True Story

You might have heard about Whitefield Academy, the private Christian school in Louisville, Kentucky, that expelled Kayla Kenney, a  15-year-old student, for posting on social media a photo of herself with a rainbow cake. On the surface, it looked ridiculous: this priggish Christian school kicking a teenager out for merely having a rainbow cake for her birthday.

The story has gone viral in the national media. The Washington Post, for example, reported:

[Kayla’s mother Kimberly] Alford said she is aware that the rainbow-striped flag is a symbol of the LGBTQ community, but emphasized that her daughter’s matching rainbow cake and sweater were simply a coincidental aesthetic and not intended to mean anything more. The expulsion was first covered this week by local news outlets, including the Courier-Journal.

“Rainbows don’t mean you’re a certain gender or certain sex or sexuality,” Alford told The Washington Post, adding that she provided the school a receipt from the bakery listing the cake’s design as “assorted colors.” “I’m not saying she’s this or that — she’s just Kayla to me. … I ordered the cake, she didn’t.”

But that explanation was apparently insufficient for Whitefield Academy, a pre-K-12 school that is affiliated with the local Highview Baptist Church. A request to speak directly with the school’s headmaster was not returned Tuesday afternoon, but in an emailed statement to The Post, the academy decried “inaccurate media reports” suggesting Kayla was expelled solely because of a Facebook post.

“In fact, she has unfortunately violated our student code of conduct numerous times over the past two years,” the school said in the statement. “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.”

“Simply a coincidental aesthetic and not intended to mean anything more.”That is almost certainly a flat-out lie, and I’m going to show you why below.

First, here’s the letter the school sent announcing her expulsion:

To the Parents of Kayla Kenney,

We are sorry to inform you that due to a continued breach of our school policies and expectations, Kayla is being dismissed from Whitefield Academy, effective today, January 6, 2020. Please see the attached letter which serves as the official notice.

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 (see the attached picture). 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. As a result, we regret to inform you that Kayla is being dismissed from the school, effective immediately.

Please contact the High School Secretary Lori Fryling with any questions regarding Kayla’s records and transcripts.

Thank you,

B. A. Jacobson, Ed.D, Ed.S

Head of School

And here is the official statement by the school:

“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.

“Whitefield Academy is a Christian-based school with a 43-year history of educating students in a learning environment informed by our shared Christian values. All parents who enroll their children in our private school know up front that we ask the students to adhere to a lifestyle informed by our Christian beliefs. There are numerous school options in our community for students who do not wish to attend a Christian-based school, and we wish our former student all the best as she finds a learning environment that is right for her.

“Whitefield Academy is accredited by ACSI/AdvancEd and a member of the Non Public School Commission of Kentucky, and therefore we meet all Kentucky regulations and laws. Our code of conduct is on par with other private Christian schools in our area. It is unfortunate that one of the student’s 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.”

The Today Show reports:

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.”

Well. I have talked to two people who are close to the situation, who give a different picture from the one in the mainstream media. The account they give is not what Kimberly Alford and the mainstream media want you to believe. It seems to me that this is a situation much like the Covington Catholic smear campaign one year ago — when the media read what it wanted to read into a story involving a conservative Christian school, and slandered them in the name of progressive values.

My understanding is that the school cannot give a full accounting of this case because of confidentiality issues involving a student. I did not talk to anybody on the faculty or with the administration of the school. But I was able to verify that my sources have been deeply involved with this school, and believe that it is being sandbagged by the media.

When Alford says her daughter “is no angel,” and confirms that she has had “disciplinary issues,” she’s understating matters. My understanding is that Kayla Kenney had a long, specific list of repeated infractions — bullying, disrespecting teachers, vaping in school (as Alford acknowledges), and so forth. Part of what she has allegedly done is promoting LGBT consciousness in the school, including aggression on that front. I’m trying to be delicate here, but I can tell you that she has transgressed against other students on this front, to promote bisexuality. For example, she allegedly drew rainbows and wrote slogans like “bi pride” on other kids’ papers, and gave at least two different girls the impression that she was sexually harassing them. Kayla has been presenting herself as gay on her Instagram account:

Here is Kayla, on the right, dressed as a male to take a female to another school’s dance. She posted this on her Instagram account:

[I HAVE REMOVED THIS IMAGE OUT OF POSSIBLE COPYRIGHT CONCERNS.]

 

This one — from October 16, 2019 — could hardly be more clear:

[I HAVE REMOVED THIS IMAGE OUT OF POSSIBLE COPYRIGHT CONCERNS. ON IT, SHE SAYS ‘ME COMING OUT’]

Another one from last year — mind you, this is months before her expulsion:

[I HAVE REMOVED THIS IMAGE OUT OF POSSIBLE COPYRIGHT CONCERNS. THE TEXT ON THE PHOTO READS ‘ME FINALLY GETTING A GF’ (GIRLFRIEND)]

December 30, 2019:

[I HAVE REMOVED THIS IMAGE OUT OF POSSIBLE COPYRIGHT CONCERNS. IT IS A PHOTO OF KAYLA AND ANOTHER GIRL, WITH THE TEXT, ‘BUT I WAS THE ONE IN HER BED….’]

Throwing her Bible in the dryer:

[I HAVE REMOVED THIS IMAGE OUT OF POSSIBLE COPYRIGHT CONCERNS.]

Kayla Kenney put all of this into the public domain while attending this conservative Christian school. Whitefield is connected to a local Southern Baptist Church. Parents who send their kids to this school have to sign an agreement before their child can enter — and the child has to sign it too. A parent within the school community sent me a copy of the agreement. Excerpt:

Kayla Kenney and her mother would have had to have signed this agreement to support the school’s standards. Furthermore, here is an excerpt from the school handbook, sent by the same parent:

I am told that the disciplinary meeting the school administration had last October with Kimberly Alford included a specific warning that Kayla had better knock off promoting LGBT. A parent who believes his kid’s school is being trashed unfairly told me:

The picture that the media is having a firestorm over was a clear warning to mom and daughter. They willfully chose to promote something. They’re playing dumb, but we know exactly what they were trying to convey.

They obviously do. Kayla Kenney was openly advertising her lesbianism, or at least her bisexuality, and even claiming to have gone to bed with a female. Kimberly Alford told TODAY that her daughter “was really trying to clean up her behavior.” Bull. Kayla and her mother were plainly trolling Whitefield’s administration with that rainbow cake. As the school administrators have publicly said, the cake photo was the last straw after a long string of disciplinary issues with this kid.

Kimberly Alford has been playing the media, and the media have been eating it up, because it confirms their biases (“Ha ha, look at those crazy conservative Christians, freaking out over a rainbow cake!”). If the media want to criticize a conservative Christian school for not affirming a gay or bisexual student, that’s fair. But what the media have been doing here — painting Kayla Kenney as an innocent unfairly punished by a wicked Christian school — is a lie. 

Another source, a member of the Louisville community intimately familiar with the school and the church with which it is affiliated, e-mailed me:

The mishandling of this story from all quarters of the mainstream media is all the more evidence for why Christians are not only suspicious of the media, but increasingly view the industry as corrupt down to the bone. In a so-called effort of protecting an innocent victim against a religious bully, these outlets demonstrate themselves to be the worst form of bullies: Arrogant, ignorant, and on the wrong side of truth and decency.

Andrew T. Walker tweets:

(The Washington Post‘s story was below that, in his tweets.)

Again, it is perfectly fair to write a story about how a private Christian school dismisses a student because of her active lesbianism. But those aren’t the stories that have been written. What we have seen so far is a narrative in which an innocent child has been unjustly identified by school authorities as gay because of the coincidence of her rainbow birthday cake. In fact, that kid has been promoting herself and her lesbianism for some time on Instagram, despite being warned by the school that doing so was incompatible with her status as a student in that school.

Kimberly Alford needs to come clean about what’s really happening here. Neither her nor her daughter are innocents in all this. The context of Kayla’s expulsion — her two years of seriously bad behavior, plus her sexual acting-out on Instagram — meaningfully changes the story. Alford should give the school permission to release its records on her daughter’s behavioral problems. People would likely see that this school has been struggling with this kid for a long time, and had finally just had enough — especially when the school’s administration realized that Kayla’s own mother was actively trying to undermine the school, in violation of the agreement both she and Kayla signed.

And yes, this is why people hate the media.

UPDATE: I have a screenshot of a now-deleted Facebook post from Kayla Kenney’s father Mark in which he outs his daughter in a profane rant against the school and church. I say “outs” his daughter, meaning that he confirms what she did on Instagram: announced that she’s gay. He’s defending her. I’m not going to post the screenshot, because it’s got foul language, but it further undermines the idea that the rainbows in the photo were just random. This kid and her mom were, in my opinion, clearly trying to provoke the school.

UPDATE.2: I figured out how to smudge out the profanity. Here is Mark Kenney’s Facebook post:

[I HAVE REMOVED THIS IMAGE OUT OF POSSIBLE COPYRIGHT CONCERNS. IN IT, HE SAYS ‘MY DAUGHTER GOT EXPELLED FROM HER CHURCH FOR BEING GAY’ AND THAT ‘YEARS AGO THE GAY COMMUNITY ADOPTED THE RAINBOW FLAG AS THEIR OWN. THE SCHOOL REALIZED THAT SH*T.]

 

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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