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California Student Seeks $1.3 Million in Outing Case

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California Student Seeks $1.3 Million in Outing Case

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: December 13, 2006 11:00 am ET

(Los Angeles, California) A former Southern California high school student who alleges her principal outed her to her family should be compensated with as much as $1.3 million her lawyer told a Santa Ana court.

Charlene Nguon is suing Santiago High School principal Ben Wolf and the Garden Grove Unified School District for violating her constitutional privacy rights and for engaging in an alleged terror campaign against her.

She is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"It is a significant impact in one's life to be punished for who you are," attorney Dan Stormer told U.S. District Judge James Selna, who is hearing the case without a jury. "That stigma never goes away."

Stormer said Nguon should receive between $300,000 to $1.3 million.

School district lawyer Dennis Walsh disputed the claim that Nguon, now a community college student, had been outed. Walsh said that Nguon's mother, Crystal Chhun, was only told that her daughter was being disciplined for "kissing another girl."

Walsh said that alone did not constitute disclosing her sexuality, using as an example the much publicized Madonna - Britney Spears kiss during the MTV Video awards in 2003.

The lawsuit alleges that Nguon was singled out for discipline a number of times for displaying affection with her girlfriend, that she was outed to her parents, was forced to transfer and that her grades suffered as a result of the harassment.

In addition to Nguon, the ACLU s representing her mother and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network in the case.

Nguon was an 'A' student, ranked in the top 5 percent of her class, but when she kissed her girlfriend on campus she was disciplined and told either she or the girlfriend would have to transfer to another school.

The teen, in addition to having straight 'A's, was enrolled in a number of advanced placement and honors classes and was a candidate for the National Honor Society until the offer was rescinded because of discipline, including one week-long suspension, for hugging her girlfriend on campus.

Nguon's grades slipped when she switched to Bolsa Grande High School as she struggled to catch up with that school's curriculum and her commute grew from a four block walk to a 4 and a half mile bike ride.

After the ACLU sent a letter to the district in late July, 2005, Nguon was allowed to return to Santiago High School where she had been enrolled since her freshman year. But the school has made no effort to improve the climate on campus or to ensure Nguon will not be targeted for discipline again, the ACLU said.

©365Gay.com 2006

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