In 2005, a private California high school expelled two students because they were suspected of being lesbians. The 4th District Court of Appeals, in a decision filed last week, ruled 3-0 that the school has the right to expel students on the basis of their suspected sexual orientation. The decision is here (PDF). The court relied heavily on a 1998 decision from the California Supreme Court, which allowed the Boy Scouts to continue to discriminate against gay men and/or atheists within the organization.
“The whole purpose of sending one’s child to a religious school is to ensure that he or she learns even secular subjects within a religious framework,” Justice Betty Richli said in the 3-0 ruling, issued Monday.
The girls were juniors at the high school in Wildomar (Riverside County) when the principal, Gregory Bork, summoned them to his office in September 2005 and questioned them separately about their sexual orientation and whether they loved each other. The principal acted after another student reported postings on the girls’ MySpace pages.
Bork suspended the girls based on their answers, and the school’s directors expelled them a month later.
The girls, who later graduated from another high school, have not been identified and have not discussed their sexual orientation, Hanson said. Their suit said the school had no right to dismiss them because of its perception that they were lesbians.
The students’ lawyer, Kirk Hanson, said he is disappointed by the ruling and that it basically allows religious schools to discriminate on the basis of anything they want. He is considering appealing the decision to the California Supreme Court, pending a discussion with the students.