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California Student Loses “That’s So Gay” Lawsuit

Rebekah Rice sought damages after being disciplined, then ridiculed, for using the phrase “that’s so gay” at Maria Carillo High School in Santa Rosa. Superior Court Judge Elaine Rushing ruled that school administrators did not single Rebekah Rice out for punishment, nor did they break any laws when they disciplined her for using the phrase “that’s so gay” in response to students who were teasing her about her Mormon upbringing.

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Superior Court Judge Elaine Rushing: “All of us have probably felt at some time that we were unfairly punished by a callous teacher, or picked on and teased by boorish and uncaring bullies. Unfortunately, this is part of what teenagers endure in becoming adults. The law, with all its majesty and might, is simply too crude and imprecise an instrument to satisfactorily soothe deeply hurt feelings.”

Additionally, Judge Rushing also rejected the claim that the school refused to protect Rebekah from teasing about her Mormon religion. In an unusual move, Judge Rushing admonished the family for aggravating Rebekah’s situation, stating “If the Rice family had not told everyone that Rebekah had been given a referral for saying ‘That’s so gay’ then no one else would have know it either, and she would not have been referred to as the ‘That’s so gay girl.'”

It’s good to see the judiciary rule in favor of the rules and laws which California school districts must follow. It is outstanding to see a judge hold parents accountable for exacerbating a minor school discipline issue and escalating it to a lawsuit.

As a law firm that deals in school district litigation and lawsuits regularly, this was truly a notable ruling.

If you are a student, parent or school administrator with a question about student rights, free speech or discipline, feel free to call SO&L at 818-461-8500. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district issue.