Petition to "Christian" college that won't provide transcripts to student expelled for being gay

Danielle Powell had nearly finished her Bachelor's Degree at Omaha's Grace University when the school administration found out that she was a lesbian. They outed her to her family and fellow students and suspended her (Grace is a religious school, which requires that its students abstain from "sexually immoral behavior, including premarital sex, adultery, and homosexual acts"). During her suspension, they made extensive queries to discover if she was still involved in same-sex relationships, and on discovering that she was, they did.

Powell has attempted to finish her degree at another university, but Grace refuses to provide her transcripts unless she pays back about $6,000 in merit scholarships that she received from the institution. Powell's wife has started a petition to get the university to provide Powell's transcripts and forgive the "debt."

"They were doing a witch hunt," Powell said, "calling around to see if I was in a same-sex relationship."

James told Powell in a letter, a copy of which was provided to HuffPost, that she was being "deceitful" and said it would be "unethical" for the university to readmit her since it "would be impossible for the faculty of Grace University to affirm your Christian character, a requirement for degree conferral."

By October 2012, as Powell was looking into attending another college, she said she was told that Grace would only transfer the credits from her three and a half years if she paid a $6,300 tuition bill from the semester during which she was suspended for being gay. The university denies they have withheld her transcripts, but Powell said she's only been offered a student copy she cannot use to transfer.

Danielle Powell, Grace University Student Kicked Out For Being Lesbian, Must Repay Thousands: [Tyler Kingkade/HuffPo] (via Reddit)


  1. These people need to get together and write a crazy right wing version of the Bible. Judge not (unless the person thinks or looks differently than you). Love thy neighbor (unless you think they are gay).

      1. For the last few years I’ve been waiting for the other foot to fall with Conservapedia. Surely, surely this is one big joke. Apparently not.

        1. Well, I’m pretty sure they think Uncyclopedia is the Librul version of themselves, so it evens out…

    1. I’ve read the bible – well, enough of it – during religion classes. It already IS a right wing text.

      1. No, it isn’t, not entirely…and that’s the problem. It’s been interpreted as a right wing text. 

        Old Testament: God smites the wicked, even amongst his chosen people.

        New Testament: Jesus teaches love and forgiveness, even of the most wretched in society.

      2. Depends on what you take as literal and what you take as metaphor, and what you read only once and then ignore.

      3. Really?  Because it talks a pretty good game about banning the abuse of interest in economic systems & creating periodic nation-wide debt forgiveness.

          1. I’m not advocating that we use some old code of laws & economics; I’m just saying that trying to place some old code of laws & economics into a modern political partisanship is fundamentally a bad approach. & as an added bonus, point out that adherents of that religion are very often supporters of secular politics that go directly against the source text.

      4. Except for all of those parts that assert that ‘family values’ and ‘traditional values’ are bullshit, those parts that assert that the rich, the powerful, and the privileged have a predilection for cruelty, and that the position of the poor and the disadvantaged should consequently be elevated, or those parts that assert that capital punishment is morally wrong, and that in general the concept of ‘justice’ is deeply flawed and far weaker than that concept of ‘love.’ Or those parts that assert that God indiscriminately treats both upstanding and criminal people equally.

        Admittedly, those are mostly sentiments expressed by the radical prophets (especially the purportedly most important prophet to Christendom), but conservatives tend to side more with the kings, priests, and Pharisees from Bible stories, despite them typically being, you know, the ones being indicted.

    2. To actually write out a Right-Wing Bible, it would require them to actually read the regular Bible in its entirety. Much better just to conjure up your own hazy mental Right-Wing Bible based on snippets of received wisdom from your loving pastor and bullshit your hear on TBN.

  2. I’m curious to know what degree she was pursuing, I’m assuming it was theological in nature.  And given that Christians aren’t always the most open and accepting people did this thought not cross her mind?  Especially considering she’s married and her parents didn’t know she was gay (or perhaps that came after she was so rudely outed).

    1. 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.

      I know that I might as well ask you to go on a three-year expedition with Indiana Jones, but reading the linked article can be remarkably informative.

      1. Sorry, I did read the parts that didn’t sound like what was presented above (or at least the parts that were below where the above ended). 

        On a side note as a heterosexual male I can’t exactly wrap my head around saying I’m heterosexual, but I’m dating a guy…at the very least wouldn’t bisexual come to mind?

        1. Sexuality isn’t so cut and dried for everyone. Some folks are very fluid. Not to mention other folks come out later because of the cultural expectations to be straight. There’s a lot of reasons to identify one way, and have it shift in the course of your life. 

    2.  Why do you assume her major was theological?  They have academic programs for business & technology, Christian ministries, education, intercultural studies, music, nursing, psychology, and communication studies.  []

      To the people who are basically saying it is her own fault for going there … maybe the school excels in a particular major?  Or her parents are really religious and wanted her to go there?  Or she is religious and wanted to go to a Christian school?  Or the school offered her the best deal?  Or maybe these rules were not so clearly laid out as the school is claiming now?

      1. Well I have a lesbian friend who is religious (Christian) and frankly that doesn’t really work out to well for her.  Personally she has gotten to a good place with it, but it’s not easy for her to find churches that are accepting of homosexuality – she just can’t walk into any random church and be accepted.  And while Antinous pointed out above that Ms. Powell wasn’t full on lesbian yet (I’d imagine at least bicurious or what not), she had to have been aware of what the school expected from her and the repercussions if they found out.

        So with that in mind I can’t see a school that holds these values being better in any major than a non-religious school other than in theological matters.  Perhaps they do offer really good degrees in other fields, or it was convenient for her, or priced right, or a myriad of other reasons, but the fact remains the school expected a certain type of conduct and she failed to abide by those rules.  It doesn’t matter how arcane we all think those rules are, that’s why it’s a private university, one she chose to go to.

        1. And while Antinous pointed out above that Ms. Powell wasn’t full on lesbian yet (I’d imagine at least bicurious or what not), she had to have been aware of what the school expected from her and the repercussions if they found out.

          Your imagination has failed you. She may have had no inkling that she was a lesbian. Many people have no idea. Has it occurred to you that someone who ended up at that school may have been raised to deny the existence of all sex, let alone lesbianism.

          …one she chose to go to.

          Or possibly the only one for which she could get funding, given her upbringing.

          Did you want to blame any more GLBT victims for homophobia, or do you have some puppies to kick?

        2. The school kicked her out for it.  That would seem to be the punishment.

          Withholding her transcript to prevent her from transferring credits is what is being discussed here and it seems to me like a petty, gratuitous, mean-spirited move.  I doubt the dude with the beard would approve.

    3. Very likely she struggled with that contradiction for years. The stories of gay religious conservatives are just heartbreaking.

  3. Might it be more effective to petition her new school to accept the student transcript copy? Some other school would probably be more willing to listen to reason, I have to imagine.

  4. >>” “would be impossible for the faculty of Grace University to affirm your Christian character, a requirement for degree conferral.” ”

    Did she know that was a requirement when she signed up? Was that clearly stated prior to her acceptance of any merit scholarships?

    The  school is horrible, but I can’t understand why she (or anyone) went there to begin with.

    1. And, to be “that guy”…  she broke the clearly stated rules that she agreed to and now is dealing with the laid-out-beforehand consequences.

      Agreeing to horrible rules just because you don’t think they will apply to you is a bad idea.  They may apply to you some day.

      1. I did, Antinous. And the petition. And I looked at the school’s website. (sorry if I’ve offended you.)

        “”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.””

        Do people get to a copy of the handbook prior to enrollment or does that come afterwards? Do they know what they’re signing up for in advance or did the school pull this, “our affirmation of your Chrisitan character is a requisite for confirment of your degree” shit.

        1. What part of her not knowing that she was a lesbian before she started school is too intellectually challenging for you to comprehend?

          1. But she knew the guidelines when she ‘became’ a lesbian. The fact that she did not know when she started is irrelevant.
            Its shitty, but if you go to a shitty Uni with shitty rules expect shitty things to happen.

          2. My question isn’t about her understanding of herself. I am wondering if the university clarified their policies in advance.

        1.  Or maybe BB posts could be a little more consistent in terms of the relevant information they include vs. the stuff you need to go to the linked article to find out.
          Sometimes you click the link and there’s nothing more than what you read here (or worse, it’s something like somebody’s long-since-moved-onto-another topic Twitter feed, or something equally useless), making it easy to sometimes assume that you might not need to click through to the original in every case.
          Seriously, fuck this school, hope she wins, and I’m totally NOT on board with the whole “she should have known what they were like” argument, but piling on someone so heavy-handedly over the whole “you’re expected to fully read the linked article for every post or shut up” thing doesn’t seem much better.

          1. Please. People were critiquing this woman who’s been screwed by her school, and they could have simply read the beginning of the linked article to see why their criticisms had no basis in fact. This isn’t HuffPo. We expect our readers to be a little more functional.

          1.    It’s not that I can’t cope with a rough and tumble discussion, but that it comes from a moderator.  

  5. Better idea: petition to have the school’s accreditation revoked.  Then the student in question will be in the same boat as everyone else there.

  6.  What does this sentence mean: “During her suspension, they made extensive queries to discover if she
    was still involved in same-sex relationships, and on discovering that
    she was, they did.”?

    1.  Replace “did” with “masturbated while weeping and begging Jesus to forgive them”, and it makes a lot more sense.

    2.  It means, “During her suspension, they made extensive queries to discover if she was still involved in same-sex relationships, and on discovering that she was, they did (discover that she was still involved in same-sex relationships).”

      Sure, it SOUNDS tautological, but remember, this is a Christian college… they actually can wrap their minds around the converse case, where, when they discovered that  she was still involved in same-sex relationships, they continued to have no idea that she was.

  7. Interesting they include adultery among the unacceptable offenses. Tacit endorsement of child weddings? Nothing worse than a child adulterer!

    1. Unless they are remarkably precocious, most college attendees are not children.

      And in conservative religious communities, it’s common for people to get married early. I had a HS friend go to a very conservative, religious school for college, and during her orientation they literally said “look left, look right. By the time you graduate, one of the people you looked at will be married” (in fact their pre-graduation marriage rate was higher, something like 80%). The school even had dorms for married students (their only co-ed dorms).

      This was an accredited school, which she went to for engineering. It was a weird place.

      1. Seems like the same retention strategy as roping in little kids – get em while they’re young, then if they happen to grow an inconvenient curiosity about the world, the social barriers to leaving that have since been erected will prevent most of them from leaving the flock.

  8. I’m afraid I got on Antinous’s bad side today with my question…. Apologies for that. I am not looking for whom to blame (and certainly would not lay any blame on the victim). I am wondering how much legal standing the college has. Were all the terms laid out in advance. It is not uncommon for schools to withhold documentation until all fees & fines (even library and campus parking) are paid and they have determined she owes tuition for the period of time during which she was suspended. Is there much chance that they can be forced to reinstate the scholarship (I had one from a religious entity, and they had *not* written in condidtions, so they couldn’t take the money away later). If not, should we be looking at setting up a “Wedding Gift” fund-raiser. I don’t expect a school this intolerant of people who are different is going to take much notice of a petition signed by people with different values.

  9. OK, so who allowed these people to run a college anyway? If they want to call it college, they have to accept everybody as a student, give out legitimate degrees, and in general follow all the rules for this kind of institution. Otherwise they’re just another bible study home circle and should advertise as such.

    And a merit scholarship is always given for excellence in study – not for behing heterosexual. If the latter were the case: where’s my scholarschip? Hey, I qualify!

    1. Getting accredited as a university doesn’t seem to be very difficult in the US.

      1. Having talked with some people working on the process of renewing accreditation, it seems to be a lot of work. None of that work is hard and all of it is annoying.

      2. Nor is getting federal funding as one. So much (yet again) for the vaunted separation of church and state.

  10. I’m sure they delve just as deeply into the personal lives of students and staff to weed out hypocrisy, covetousness, and breakers of the Golden Rule…..right?

    What is it about sex and Christianity in the US?  They spend more time and energy thinking about sex than sex workers do.

    1.  I was just wondering if all the school spirit wear they sell in their bookstore is 100% cotton.

  11. Looks like the upper echelon of the university felt embarrassed and that they were given a big fuck you from Ms. Powell. They seemed to gun for her after she tried to do what they asked of her…. or did she?

    “Powell said she was working at a civil rights foundation in Mississippi to finish her psychology degree when she was called back to Grace University in Omaha and confronted about the relationship. She was eventually expelled — 

    As required by the university after her suspension, Powell said she promised not to engage in sex and completed months of church attendance and meetings with Christian mentors, spiritual advisers and other groups. She was then readmitted, only to receive a letter days later from the university’s vice president, Michael James, revoking her admittance”.

    James wrote that her re-admittance had been based on professions she made to various faculty and staff that she would change her behavior, but that “the prevailing opinion is that those professions appear to have been insincere, at best, if not deceitful.”

  12. I wonder if there’s a case of this college expelling (and withholding transcripts for) any straight student for pre-marital sex.  I mean, that rule has had to have been broken sometime.

    And has so much inquiry ever been made into the lives of ‘suspect’ straight students as they did with Ms. Powell?

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised. I had a friend who attended a(n accredited) very conservative religious school, and their policies for policing students were very, very strict, including early curfews for female students, parental permission for female students to leave campus overnight, male guests of female students having to sign in at the front desk of the dormitory and keep the dormitory doors open for the duration of the visit, etc. The only co-ed dorms were for students who got married while still in school.

      While she didn’t know anyone specifically who had been expelled for premarital sex (or for being gay), she was confident that both were thoroughly unacceptable at the institution, and knew of people who had been expelled for boning.

      You are right, though, that probably not so much inquiry/witch-hunting was done as was done to root out Powell’s private life beyond school walls.

  13. This is the paradox of the bible college.  They get away with this because “hey, that’s Who We Are.”

    If you are a janitor or an IT guy at one of these places (that is, your faith has no relation at all to the instruction given at that school),  they still make you sign an affirmation of faith and have references, and can fire you if you later reneg on the affirmation.

    It is police-state bizarre.

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