The University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky, has expelled dean’s list sophomore, Jason Johnson because he is gay.
Johnson was notified of his expulsion on Thursday, April 6, 2006, when the stunned student was told he had five hours to vacate the premises.
Johnson, 20, of Lexington, Ky., was involved as stage manager of a student production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” In response to his request to come back to campus that evening to bid his fellow drama students goodbye, he was told in no uncertain terms that if he set foot on the grounds of the University of the Cumberlands after the five-hour limit, the police would be notified and he would be arrested for trespassing. Johnson was crushed.
Zac Dreyer, 18, who is a student at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ky, is Jason’s boyfriend. Dreyer was on campus with Johnson when he got the news of his expulsion.
“I had spent the night on campus and was there when Jason was called to the Student Services Building, but we had no clue as to why. I waited outside as he spoke with the U.C. official. When he came out of the office, he was in tears. He said that because he had listed his sexual orientation as ‘gay’ on his MySpace profile, he was being expelled,” explained Dreyer.
“They said that any student engaging in sex outside of marriage or who is homosexual is automatically suspended and expelled according to their student conduct policy,” continues Dreyer. “His Mom came from Lexington to help him move.”
The University of the Cumberlands is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Church. College President Jim Taylor released the following statement in the wake of widespread press coverage.
“At the University of the Cumberlands, we hold students to a higher standard. Students know the rules before they come to this institution. We’ve followed our policies and procedures in keeping with our traditional denominational beliefs. University of the Cumberlands isn’t for everyone. We tell prospective students about our high standards before they come. We are different by design, and are non-apologetic about our Christian beliefs.”
Christina Gilgor, Executive Director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance (KFA), reports that because of the college administration’s actions the KFA gathered 400 letters and delivered them to the desk of Governor Ernie Fletcher so that he might “exercise his right to a line item veto to withhold $11 million dollars in state funding earmarked for a new school of pharmacy and tuition reimbursement for pharmacy students that is currently designated for use by the University of the Cumberlands to assist them in expanding their curriculum.”
The KFA is working with the Kentucky Collegiate Coalition (KCC,) an alliance of GLBT college groups in the state, who have come out strongly in support of Johnson.
“KCC members,” declares Kelli Persons, KCC Chairperson, “support Jason and all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students in Kentucky. No student should be denied access to an education based on sexual orientation or any other difference. Fair-minded Kentuckians are outraged that any discrimination is allowed to happen in our state. We are deeply concerned that other students in Kentucky and elsewhere will have to face the fear that their right to an education and to be themselves is in jeopardy.”
To further show their support the two organizations organized a public protest on the campus in Williamsburg on Wednesday, April 19.