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, a judge ruled yesterday. As a result of the subsequent attention Rice’s family created over the incident, Rice was also then teased as the “That’s so gay” girl by her peers.
Said 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.”
The Rice’s argued that the teacher who sent Rice to the principal’s office violated her first amendment rights, but the judge said “the law under which the Rices brought the lawsuit specifically excludes schools. In addition, she said that school officials are given wide latitude in deciding how to enforce non-discrimination provisions of the state education code.”
Rushing also rejected the family’s claim that the school observed a double standard because they refused to protect Rebekah from teasing over the fact that she is Mormon. In fact, Rushing reprimanded the family for making their daughter’s situation worse: “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.'”
Judge: No money for girl who sued over saying ‘That’s so gay’ [ap via san jose mercury news]
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