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Thursday
Jun132013

Christian College Expels Lesbian Student, Asks for Tuition

Mario Tama/Getty Images(OMAHA, Neb.) -- Danielle Powell was just months away from her college graduation when she fell in love with a fellow student at Grace University in Omaha, Neb.

But the other student was a woman, and same-sex relationships were forbidden at the biblical-based Christian college.

The school suspended Powell, took away her scholarship, and then expelled her for her continued relationship with the female student, according to a petition posted online by Powell's now-wife. She was one semester short of graduating.

Powell and her now-wife, Michelle Rogers, have started a Change.org petition asking for signatures and letters to be written to the university forgiving Powell's tuition debt and protesting alleged discrimination.

"Danielle dreamed of completing her degree at Grace University in Omaha, Neb. and becoming the first person in her family to graduate from college," Rogers wrote on the petition. "In the spring 2011, that dream came to an end when university officials found out Danielle was in a same-sex relationship and expelled her from school just one semester short of graduation."

"Danielle's life was completely turned upside down and her academic career ended simply because she fell in love with another woman," Rogers wrote.

Powell and Rogers did not immediately respond to messages from ABC News.

Rogers quoted a letter from the university on the petition, noting that Powell was told, "… it would be impossible for the faculty of Grace University to affirm your Christian character, a requirement for degree conferral."

According to the petition, Powell received scholarships to fund her tuition at Grace, and the school demanded that she repay $6,300 of tuition fees that her scholarship would have covered, had it not been revoked.

"Please sign this petition and join us in demanding at least a shred of 'grace' from Grace University," Rogers wrote.

The petition has netted more than 25,000 signatures as of Thursday.

Michael James, executive vice president at Grace, confirmed that the student handbook bans students from engaging in same-sex relationships, threatening 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."

James said he could not comment directly on Powell's case, but said that the school is seeking repayment of federal loans and grants, not scholarships.

"Grace University is run on biblical principles, therefore we do not employ collection agencies or take legal action, nor do we report to credit agencies. Our policy is to notify the student of the debt, and we believe it is up to the student to uphold their Christian obligations," James said in a statement.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio