Kentucky Student Kicked Out of School for Being Gay
A sophomore dean's list theatre arts major at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg was asked to leave the university on April 8, 2006, after he revealed that he is gay on the social networking site MySpace.com. Jason Johnson of Lexington, Kentucky (a nearly straight-A student) was told by officials that they don't approve of his "gay lifestyle". The university's president, Dr. James H. Taylor, said in a written statement, "At University of the Cumberlands, we hold students to a higher standard than does society in general...University of the Cumberlands isn't for everyone. We tell prospective students about our high standards before they come. There are places students with predispositions can go such as San Francisco and the Left Coast or to many of the state schools." The student handbook states that students can be removed from campus for participating in pre-marital sex or homosexual behavior — a policy which Johnson's attorney alleges was added after Johnson decided to go to school at UC. The legality of such a policy is doubtful as the university recieves some funds from the Kentucky State Government. According to the Supreme Court ruling in Bob Jones University v. United States, any university recieving public monies may not discriminate, so any court challenge will likely center on this. A gay Kentucky State Senator, Ernesto Scorsone, has indicated that he would oppose spending the funds already allocated for a new pharmacy school for the university, stating "We should not be budgeting bigotry."
This is not the first time President Taylor has severed relations with someone from the school because he didn't like what they had written on the Internet. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) found that Taylor coerced Professor Robert Day into resigning in 2003 because he had opposed Taylor's proposed staff layoffs on an off-campus Web site. The AAUP concluded that "The policies of Cumberland College, including the grievance procedure, do not provide for faculty hearings of any kind. College policies and practices preclude any effective faculty role in academic governance and contribute to an atmosphere that stifles the freedom of faculty to question and criticize administrative decisions and actions" The AAUP noted that current and former faculty members "do not feel free to address topics of college concern in any forum" and "described a climate of fear about what faculty members may say and do, a fear based on what they know or have been told has happened to others". Those interviewed "expressed a particular fear that criticizing the administration and its operation of the college could place a faculty member's appointment in jeopardy."