Student Kicked Out Of University For Being A Lesbian Is Ordered To Repay Scholarship Money
Danielle Powell was close to getting her bachelor’s degree when she was kicked out of her university for being gay in 2012, and now says the only way the school will transfer her credits to another school is if she agrees to pay $6,300. In response, Powell has launched an online petition to pressure the school to forgive the debt. Powell was a student at Grace University in early 2011 when she began her first same-sex relationship. Up until that point, neither she nor her then-girlfriend identified as lesbian. When Grace, a religious university in Omaha, Neb., found out about the relationship through a spiritual adviser at the school, they brought Powell before a judiciary board to decide whether she should be allowed to stay enrolled.
“At that time, my family had no idea, so I had to come out to my family sooner than I would’ve wanted,” Powell told The Huffington Post. Michael James, executive vice president at Grace, told The Huffington Post that the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prevents them from discussing any student’s particular case. But he did confirm the student handbook states that “Any student involved in sexually immoral behavior, including premarital sex, adultery, and homosexual acts, is at minimum placed on University probation and may be subject to a Judiciary Hearing.” Powell said the board asked her why she did what she did and whether she was remorseful, treating her, in her words, “like a sexual predator.” The university ultimately decided in March 2011 to suspend her and not allow her to finish the semester. Powell said she was also told she now owed Grace just over $6,000 after an academic scholarship she’d been awarded was revoked.
Powell said that the university told her she could participate in a restoration program, involving counseling and regular church attendance, to get readmitted, but she would have to live off campus and could not stay overnight in the dorms. She began the restoration process in the summer of 2011, so as not to jeopardize work that she was afraid she might lose by transferring to another institution.But shortly before the start of the spring 2012 semester, Grace decided not to readmit her because she was still dating women. “They were doing a witch hunt,” Powell said, “calling around to see if I was in a same-sex relationship.”
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