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Lesbian Student Loses Suit

Charlene Nguon lost her federal lawsuit against an Orange County school district and her principal for telling her mother she was gay. A federal judge ruled Charlene Nguon was treated no differently from straight students and her rights weren’t violated.

In 2005 Nguon filed suit against Garden Grove Unified School District, claiming she was suspended several times and forced to temporarily transfer because she refused to stop hugging and kissing her girlfriend on campus. The Santa Ana resident and her girlfriend, Trang Nguyen, allege that Santiago High School Principal Ben Wolf told them not to show affection toward each other after they began dating as juniors. Throughout the year, the two defied the order and continued to hug and kiss on campus despite suspensions ranging from one to five days, the suit says. Eventually, Wolf demanded that one of the girls transfer to another school, according to the suit. She was then “outed” to her parents by the school. The suit also points out the lack of enforcement and in the disparity of punishments received by heterosexual students.

In December of 2005 a federal judge ruled that school districts cannot “out” gay students even if their sexual orientation is known on campus. The ruling paved the way for a discrimination lawsuit by the then 17-year-old student to go forward against the Garden Grove Unified School District.

Nguon’s suit sought unspecified damages and requests that the district establish, among other measures, a policy prohibiting administrators from revealing a student’s sexual orientation.

But this week a federal judge ruled that Nguon’s rights weren’t violated. That she was treated no differently than her heterosexual counterparts. The ruling also allows for the school district to seek damages and legal fees from the former student. Dennis Walsh, the district’s attorney, says the district will now seek nearly $400,000 in legal fees.

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