University uses MySpace.com profile to expel gay student
KENTUCKY -- A college student expelled Thursday by his university for writing he is gay on his MySpace.com profile has threatened a lawsuit against the school.
The incident may also threaten plans at the University of Cumberlands, a private school, for a pharmacy school built partly with state funds.
One state representative has asserted that the school's policies against homosexuality may violate national accreditation standards for pharmacy schools, according to an article in the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The Kentucky Legislature is currently debating a state budget that includes $11 million appropriated for the University of Cumberlands -- $10 million for a pharmacy school and $1 million for pharmacy scholarships, the article said.
On the House floor this week, Rep. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, called for the university to refuse the state funds after it expelled sophomore Jason Johnson for writing he was gay on MySpace.com, according to an article in The Courier-Journal, a Louisville newspaper.
''We are made in the image of God, and the time to discriminate is long gone," Stein said in the article.
The incident began last week when school officials expelled Johnson after he indicated on his MySpace profile that he was gay and wrote about his boyfriend on the site.
MySpace is a social networking site that allows people to post personal profiles with photos, share music and videos and maintain online journals.
In a statement released Monday, Jim Taylor, president of the University of Cumberlands, said university legal counsel had advised school officials to make no further comments on the situation ''in light of threatened litigation.''
The University of Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Ky., is a private college affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, according to the university's Web site.
The school's 2005-06 student handbook states that, ''any student who engages in or promotes sexual behavior not consistent with Christian principles (including sex outside marriage and homosexuality) may be suspended or asked to withdraw.''
According to an article in the Lexington Herald-Leader, two officials confronted Johnson last week. They showed him the student handbook and then showed him a copy of his MySpace profile.
In another statement released Friday, Taylor said the University of Cumberlands holds students to a ''higher standard.''
''Students know the rules before they come to this institution,'' he said. ''We've followed our policies and procedures in keeping with our traditional denominational beliefs.''
Johnson has retained an attorney and said he believes the grounds for his expulsion were against the law, according to a Courier-Journal article.
On a profile of a MySpace.com member claiming to be Zac Dreyer, Johnson's boyfriend, Dreyer urged people to spread news of Johnson's expulsion.
''He is being asked to leave the University because he is gay,'' he wrote on the profile. ''As his boyfriend, I cannot sit idely (sic) and watch them do this to him. This is an outrage, discriminating against people just because of their sexual orientation.''
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