Over 60,000 people have signed a petition in support of Danielle Powell, a former Grace University student who was kicked out of the school because she is gay. The school is also forcing Powell to repay a $6,300 scholarship for the semester she was initially suspended.
According to education news site Diverse, Powell was suspended in spring 2011 after Grace — a Christian university — discovered she had begun a relationship with another female student. The university began billing Powell for the scholarship following her suspension. When she tried to re-enroll the next year, the executive vice president of Grace informed her that she had been expelled.
“He stated they had enough firsthand information from individuals that I had been deceitful and they couldn’t affirm my Christian character,” Powell told Diverse. Grace is a private university and can expel students who the administration believes do not meet their code of conduct.
Powell stopped receiving monthly bills for the $6,300 after her expulsion. Diverse reports. However, when she attempted to transfer schools, Grace refused to send Powell her transcript, saying she still owed the school money.
Seeing no other option, Powell’s wife — whom she met after her suspension and married last year — took to change.org to garner support for the couple’s financial woes. Here’s an excerpt from the petition:
“Danielle’s life was completely turned upside down and her academic career ended simply because she fell in love with another woman. We are a young, recently married couple and this lingering debt — which Danielle should not have to pay and Grace University has no right to demand — is holding her back from achieving her dreams and putting us in a perilous financial situation.”
As USA Today points out, Grace has an exceptionally strict code of conduct: “No kissing, no prolonged hugs and certainly no premarital sex. The school even monitors students’ television habits, forbidding HBO, MTV, Comedy Central and several other channels ‘because of the values they promote.'”
Powell first enrolled at Grace in 2007, planning to study psychology. According to the petition, Powell was a member of the volleyball team at Grace and worked with Omaha’s homeless community. She would have been the first member of her family to graduate from college.
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