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Judge Rejects School Claim It Could 'Out' Gay Students To Parents


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Judge Rejects School Claim It Could 'Out' Gay Students To Parents

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: December 1, 2005 5:00 pm ET

(Los Angeles, California) A federal judge Thursday rejected an Orange County school district's claim that it was within its rights to reveal a student's sexuality to her parents.

The ruling turns down a motion by the Garden Grove Unified School District to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the student, Charlene Nguon.

In its motion to dismiss the case, the school claimed that Nguon did not have a legal interest in keeping her sexual orientation private because she was affectionate with her girlfriend at school.

The court disagreed, ruling that Nguon can proceed with her legal claim that the principal violated her constitutional privacy rights.

"I am very glad that the judge agreed Charlene can continue to stand up for her rights," said Nguon's mother, Crystal Chhun. "I love and fully support Charlene, but that's not the case for every gay student out there. The person to decide when and how to talk with our family about her sexual orientation should have been my daughter, not the principal."

The suit, filed by the ACLU of Southern California, 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number of advanced placement and honors classes and was a candidate for the National Honor Society until the offer was rescinded because of discipline, including one week-long suspension, for hugging her girlfriend on campus.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, 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.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and the creation of a district wide policy and guidelines to ensure that gay and lesbian students are treated equally.

"We are pleased that the court recognized that the school does not have the automatic right to disclose a student's sexual orientation just because that student is out of the closet to his or her friends at school," said Christine P. Sun, a staff attorney for the ACLU. "Coming out is a very serious decision that should not be taken away from anyone, especially from students who may be put in peril if they live in an unsupportive home."

©365Gay.com 2005


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