http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jan/28 ... e-school28School can expel lesbian students, court rules
An appeals panel finds California Lutheran High School in Riverside County is not a business and therefore doesn't have to comply with a state law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.
By Maura Dolan
January 28, 2009
After a Lutheran school expelled two 16-year-old girls for having "a bond of intimacy" that was "characteristic of a lesbian relationship," the girls sued, contending the school had violated a state anti-discrimination law.
In response to that suit, an appeals court decided this week that the private religious school was not a business and therefore did not have to comply with a state law that prohibits businesses from discriminating. A lawyer for the girls said Tuesday that he would ask the California Supreme Court to overturn the unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal.
The appeals court called its decision "narrow," but lawyers on both sides of the case said it would protect private religious schools across California from such discrimination suits.
Kirk D. Hanson, who represented the girls, said the "very troubling" ruling would permit private schools to discriminate against anyone, as long as the schools used their religious beliefs as justification.
"It is almost like it could roll back 20 to 30 years of progress we have made in this area," said the San Diego attorney. "Basically, this decision gives private schools the license to discriminate."
John McKay, who represented the Riverside County-based California Lutheran High School, said the ruling correctly acknowledged that the school's purpose was to "teach Christian values in a Christian setting pursuant to a Christian code of conduct."
The girls were expelled in their junior year for "conducting themselves in a manner consistent with being lesbians," said McKay, who added that the girls never disclosed their sexual orientation during the litigation. Hanson said the girls had been "best friends" and, citing their privacy, declined to discuss their sexual orientation. They are now in college, he said.
The dispute started when a student at the school told a teacher in 2005 that one of the girls had said she loved the other. The student advised the teacher to look at the girls' MySpace pages. One of the girls was identified as bisexual on her MySpace page, the other's page said she was "not sure" of her sexual orientation.
McKay said the website also contained a photograph of the girls hugging.
According to the principal, who called each girl out of class separately, both admitted they had hugged and kissed each other and told other students they were lesbians. The girls said they admitted only that they loved each other as friends.
FAIL en tantos sentidos...