HRC Blog

University Expels Women for Being Gay, Asks Her to Pay Back Her Scholarship

Post submitted by David McCabe, HRC Digital Media Intern

A woman whose on-stage proposal to her girlfriend at a Macklemore concert rocketed around the Internet last week is telling her story of being kicked out of her university because of her sexual orientation.

In early 2011, Danielle Powell was enrolled at Grace University, a private Christian institution in Omaha, Neb., when she began her first same-sex relationship. The school found out about the relationship and began judicial proceedings against her. Powell had not yet come out to her family, and was forced into doing so sooner than she had planned, according to the Huffington Post.

“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,” states the school’s student handbook.

In March of that year, the judicial board told Powell she would have to leave Grace. They also revoked an academic scholarship she had received, and asked her to pay back the approximately $6,000 of tuition that it had covered. While Powell went through a “restoration program” that Grace said might make it possible for her to return, they ultimately told her that they could not readmit her since she remained in a same-sex relationship.

She has been looking into finishing her degree at another college, but she says Grace won’t provide her with the kind of transcript she needs to enroll elsewhere until she pays the $6,300 in fees – money that she just doesn’t have. If she is able to transfer, she might be able to achieve her dream of becoming the first person in her family to earn a college degree. 

In recent years, students at Christian colleges around the country have been pushing back against the hard lines their institutions draw against same-sex relationships, fighting to gain official status for Gay-Straight Alliances and writing about their experiences. Sometimes, though, they are simply living their lives openly, hoping, as Powell did, that they will be allowed to pursue their educational dreams without being targeted for who they are.

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