RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Two 16-year-olds who were expelled from a Lutheran high school because they were suspected of being lesbians have sued the school for invasion of privacy and discrimination.
The lawsuit, filed last week in Riverside County Superior Court, seeks the girls' re-enrollment at the small California Lutheran High School, unspecified damages and an injunction barring the school from excluding gays and lesbians.
Kirk D. Hanson, an attorney for the girls, said the expulsion traumatized and humiliated them.
"Their entire support network was pulled out from under them because of suspicions about their sexual orientation," said Hanson, who declined to say whether his clients are lesbians.
The school is on Christmas break until next week, and messages left for school officials Thursday were not immediately returned.
The lawsuit alleges that the school's principal, Gregory Bork, called the girls into his office, grilled them on their sexual orientation and "coerced" one girl into saying she loved the other.
The next day, the lawsuit says, Bork told the girls' parents they could not stay at the school with "those feelings." In a Sept. 12 letter to the parents, Bork acknowledged that officials had seen no physical contact between the girls but said their friendship was "uncharacteristic of normal girl relationships and more characteristic of a lesbian one."
"Such a relationship violates our Christian Code of Conduct," Bork wrote in his letter, which was included as an exhibit in the lawsuit. He called the girls' behavior "scandalous" and "immoral."
Hanson said the 142-student school in Wildomar, Calif., must comply with state civil rights laws because it functions as a business by collecting tuition.
"There's a lot of hypocrisy going on here," Hanson said. "The school is claiming the girls were expelled because their conduct wasn't within the Christian code. But at the same time, (the school) has students who aren't Christians and are even Jewish."