Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Schools can expel students that seem gay, appeals court rules

Lawyers agreed Christian high school case would apply to California private schools

RIVERSIDE, California (Observer Update) - A California appeals court ruled Monday that a Christian high school can expel students perceived to be lesbians, upholding a 2008 lower court ruling that there were "no triable" elements to the case, reported.

The 4th District Court of Appeal in Riverside on Monday upheld California Lutheran High School's right as a private, religious organization to exclude students based on sexual orientation. The ruling was released late Tuesday.

The two 16-year-old girls sued the school for expelling them on the basis of a "bond of intimacy" "characteristic of a lesbian relationship," under a California discrimination law.

"It is almost like it could roll back 20 to 30 years of progress we have made in this area," Kirk Hanson, the girls' attorney, told the LA Times. "Basically, this decision gives private schools the license to discriminate."

While the court called its own decision "narrow," lawyers on both sides of the case said it would likely shield protect private schools -- beyond simply the Christian school in the lawsuit -- from anti-discrimination suits.

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