Friday, December 02, 2005

Charlene Nguon, a 17-year-old honor student, is in the photo on the left. See article below.

Lesbian can sue school

The federal judicial decision described below is an excellent one that advances the rights of underage students and Gay people in general. Young LGBT persons often "come out" with their peers before telling their parents. These students have a right to have their privacy protected. Kudos to the ACLU and Christine Sun who took the case. It is my understanding that Charlene Nguon's mother supported her in this case in order to allow her daughter to sue the school not only for invading her privacy but also because Nguon was forced to transfer to another school to keep her away from her girlfriend and from "embarrassing" the school. What a crock, I mean that kind of cockeyed way the school dealt with the student. The whole situation developed when school officials observed Nguon and another girl kissing on campus.

Sharon Raphael

Judge Rules Lesbian Student Can Sue School

Charlene Nguon, 17, may go forward with her suit claiming violation of privacy rights, U.S. District Judge James V. Selna ruled in a decision dated Nov. 28 and announced Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

The Garden Grove Unified School District had sought dismissal of a portion of the suit, arguing that Nguon openly kissed and hugged her girlfriend on campus and thus had no expectation of privacy.

However, Selna ruled that Nguon had "sufficiently alleged a legally protected privacy interest in information about her sexual orientation."

No trial date was set.

"This is the first court ruling we're aware of where a judge has recognized that a student has a right not to have her sexual orientation disclosed to her parents, even if she is out of the closet at school," said Christine Sun, an ACLU attorney who brought the case on behalf of Nguon and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

"Coming out is a very serious decision that should not be taken away from anyone, and disclosure can cause a lot of harm to students who live in an unsupportive home," Sun said.

Nguon sued after Santiago High School Principal Ben Wolf told her mother about her sexuality last year.

"It's a really good thing for the case and for other students," Nguon said of the ruling.

"Our family is really happy that the judge agreed Charlene can continue to stand up for her rights," her mother, Crystal Chhun, said in a written statement. "The person to decide when and how to talk with our family about this should have been my daughter, not her principal."

District officials have declined to comment on the suit.

The suit also claims discrimination, contending that Nguon was suspended several times because she ignored orders by Wolf to stop hugging and kissing her girlfriend.

Heterosexual couples engaging in similar behavior weren't disciplined, the suit contends.The suit seeks unspecified damages, an admission that the district violated Nguon's civil rights and a policy change preventing officials from revealing a student's sexual orientation.

12/02/05 14:14 EST Associated Press Report

Sunday, November 27, 2005


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Dawn Prince Hughes, Ph.D. author of Songs of Gorilla Nation

lowland gorilla