NO MONEY FOR YOU…. A religious high school in Southern California a few years ago expelled students school officials believed to be lesbians. Because state law forbids businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, the expulsions prompted litigation. A state court ruled that while the school charges tuition in exchange for a service, it isn’t covered by California civil rights laws because it’s not a “business.”
This week, the state Supreme Court left that ruling intact, applying the standard to private schools throughout California.
Over Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar’s dissent, the court denied review of an appeal by parents of two girls who were expelled from a high school in Riverside County. A lawyer for the parents said the ruling, which is binding on trial courts statewide, would allow private schools to discriminate against students on any basis they chose, including sex and religion.
The girls were juniors at California Lutheran High School in the town of Wildomar when the principal, Gregory Bork, called them to his office in September 2005 and questioned them separately about their sexual orientation, after another student reported postings on their 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, said their parents’ attorney, Kirk Hanson.
Apparently, the school is considered a social organization entitled to follow its principles, whether they’re discriminatory or not.
While I found the ruling disappointing, it led to me to think of a message for private religious schools everywhere: no vouchers.
It’s simple, really. If a private school wants to discriminate, fine. I don’t like it, but it’s a private religious entity. Don’t, however, discriminate and then ask the government to use tax dollars to subsidize the institution.