The Orange County High School That Tried Banning Rent? It’s Being Sued for Homophobic Discrimination


HATE SCHOOL MUSICAL — By now you’re on a first name basis with Fal Asrani, the principal of Corona Del Mar High School in Orange County, which, as Queerty was the first to tell you, tried to ban students from producing Rent because it was too gay. (The final verdict: The show will go on!) Well not only does Asrani’s school have a problem with gays in the theatre department — it appears they’ve got a problem with gays overall. It’s so bad, the watchdogs at the ACLU of Southern California are suing Corona Del Mar High and the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. Yes, in court.

“The homophobic harassment and bullying at the school unfortunately typify a rise in hostility toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students throughout California in the wake of the divisive campaign over Proposition 8, which eliminated the right of lesbians and gay men to marry,” says the ACLU in a press release. Adds ACLU Orange County director Hector Villagra: “The threats, intimidation and slurs directed toward students on the basis of gender and sexual orientation at Corona del Mar High School are part of a growing sexist and homophobic environment there that school administrators could have – and should have – stopped. Instead, these school officials amplified the hostile atmosphere by sending the message that the harassers can act with impunity, and by telling students who were the targets of threats and bullying that they would have to find ways to avoid it.”

This comes as zero surprise to many Corona students, as well as Queerty readers, who learned about one incident of intimidation toward a student by classmates, who took to the Internet to taunt her with a harassing and homophobic video posted on Facebook. (The girl’s bullies were given a five-day suspension and, according to the ACLU’s lawsuit, the student continues to be “vulnerable to” harassment.)

And in an update to the Rent debacle, we learn students who came out in support of the production by wearing rainbow buttons had them confiscated.

What’s the purpose of these lawsuits? Not necessarily to collect punitive damages, but to force school districts — whose budgets are paid for by local taxpayers — to change their course of action when it seems nothing else will, not even the repeated harassment of students and the unspoken sanctioning of that behavior by school administrators.

Read the ACLU’s complaint filed in court on the next page.

• Feb. 25: This Spring, After a Long Fight, Orange County Will Have 525,600 Seasons of Love
• Feb. 20: Rent Remains Too Gay In West Virginia and Texas, Just Fine In Mississippi and Missouri
• Feb. 19: The Principal Who Canceled Rent Has a History of Not Caring About Gays
• Feb. 19: Orange County High School Trades ‘Too Gay’ Rent for Charlie Brown
• Feb. 14: Why the Orange County High School Really Banned Rent
• Feb. 13: Orange County High School Principal Bans ‘Gay Characters’ in Drama Department

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  • Sceth

    Just read through the file. Oh dear; I hope the case is solid.

  • Pragmatist

    And now for the important stuff: Corona del Mar is usually shortened to “CDM” rather than “Corona.”


  • DairyQueen

    I am so glad the ACLU are going after the school and district! There are LAWS in CA that protect students from bullying regardless of WTF you are. The principal,teachers and district need to be implementing these laws to the student body, that bullying is not allowed and you will be punished for it. This brings back so many bad memories of when I was in High School in the 80’s when I would be harrassed and bullied everyday for perceive to be gay (I didn’t come out until after HS) IT IS 2000 fucking 9. This shit needs to stop.

  • kevin (not that one)

    Thanks for making me feel guilty for not renewing my ALCU membership.

    Or I guess I should say, thanks for reminding me to.

  • Scrufff

    I grew up in OC in the early 80’s and at that time I had large group of gay friends that went CDM HS, i don’t recall it being a hostile place for my friends. You’d think things would get better not worse in time.

  • getreal


  • tommyb

    hope the lawsuit goes through and they kick Asrani’s ass out of the school system!

  • Chloe

    best news so far this week.

    Kudos, ACLU


    Not exactly good news that the school allows bullying, takes away rainbow buttons, etc…[email protected]Chloe:

  • Blake

    I am glad to see this school getting more scrutiny.

    When this topic is discussed, it should be pointed out that it was the sanitized school version of RENT that the principal objected to, and it is the school version that will be produced.

    The drama teacher chose RENT as a creative response to incidents of gay bashing at this school.

    This school takes pride in having been recognized on the federal level by the national department of education as a blue ribbon National School of Excellence.

    If you visit the school’s website or link to their student newspaper you will learn that this school has a long, impressive, diverse list of student organizations. Any type of gay support group or gay/straight alliance is conspicuously absent from this list.

    Bullying and harassment of gays and their supporters should not be tolerated at any school, let alone a National School of Excellence.

    We need to keep any eye on this story.

  • Allison

    A comment had been left about the locals in Newport Beach and our solid support of Prop 8. It was a horrific time, akin to the German public supporting the Nazi movement, signs peppering our publicly owned roadsides and hillsides. Messages displaying “Vote Yes On 8” – “Protect Families” – “Protect Children” —all euphemisms for “We Hate Gays!” Well, what did Newport Beach expect? Our children are now acting out all of the messages they internalized during the Prop 8 debacle: Gays Have No Right to Civil Justice! Over time, the ACLU has been able to nudge the Deep South forward. Even there, one cannot find HATE MESSAGES on the public roadsides. The bigoted police departments of the South have been able to rein in their rednecks, their KKK! Alas, Newport Beach, the bastion of bigotry! The NPB police department is extremely anti-gay, a top down approach (see yesterday’s news stories). It remains very clear why the illegally placed signage flourished and was allowed to remain on publicly owned property. WHAT WERE WE THINKING WOULD HAPPEN with our STATE SPONSORED BIGOTRY? Believe me when I say, there are those of us in NPB living in great shame on a daily basis, indeed. It is my prayer the ACLU shall nail the bastards to the wall. (a npb straight fat old lady whose membership is current. is yours?)

  • Friend

    This is coming from a CDM alum… The school itself should not be scrutinized or sued for what is going on here. High schools have the right to choose what musicals/shows they want to produce. And during my entire tenure at CDM, there was never any anti-gay or homophobic discrimination coming from any of the teachers I knew.

    However, for Fal Asrani to step in and say that CDM would not produce Rent is out of line. From the moment she stepped foot at CDM she has sent the school down a steep spiral. Her views and actions against student decisions and sexuality over the years have been far from ethical and fair. She is a very biased and radical-minded woman who needs to step down from her position as principle at that school.

    Her actions and views on homosexuality are horrible, however they should not reflect the views of Corona del Mar High School. The students and staff are in no way homophobic or anti-gay.

    FAL ASRANI NEEDS TO STEP DOWN OR BE FIRED. She has brought nothing but bad PR and views to Corona del Mar.

  • NewportBeachparent

    Fal Asrani should be held accountable; but the issue is one of bullying and intolerance in general, not just towards gays. When the leader is a bully herself it’s not so surprising that the atmosphere may be hostile, unethical, and unfair. Can you believe that the same day the lawsuit was filed, Fal Asrani was named winner of a PTA “Honorary Service Award” for “extraordinary efforts for the children and youth of CDM High School”? Award to be given at 9:30 AM on April Fools Day…for real.

  • sioraiocht

    I am a CdMHS alum (class of 2003), and I will tell you that when I attended it was an extremely hostile place to be LGBT. The fact that there were even students will to wear rainbows in public is quite a different place from the on ethat I remember and tells me that things are getting better in the student culture, at least.

    The administration needs to be held accountable. Also when I attended, the administration had a well-deserved reputation of scraping and bowing to noisy parents, often siding with them instead of the faculty in matters of grading and discipline and undermining teachers’ authority whenever it was more convenient than dealing with a litigious parent full of self-righteous indignation. It seems this still holds true, and their behaviour is likely due to their fear of upsetting the extremely conservative population of Newport Beach and surrounding areas.

  • Attmay

    Couldn’t they have chosen La Cage Aux Folles instead? At least Jerry Herman can write a song.

  • HowAboutSomeMaturity

    This article is slander. I am a homosexual student at corona del mar high school and have been out for years. I have never been threatened or bullied because of my sexual orientation and on a weekly basis since this has occurred concerned staff check in with me to see if anything of that sort has happened, and to immediately tell them if it does. The buttons that were taken away weren’t just “rainbow buttons” they had slogans concerning the RENT issue printed on them, and only a few were taken away.

    Also, it should be made known that at our school there is an event called Appreciating Diversity Day (Which is actually happening tomorrow, March 26) in which there are all day seminars for topics such as religion, disabilities, ect. One of the seminars is for PFLAG. (Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays) Every year administration fights against PFLAG coming to CDM but Fal Asrani has fought for it insisting that it must be included for the benefit of the students.

    I agree that what happened is wrong, but it’s unfair to harshly over exaggerate the problem.

  • SurfNicaragua

    “Diversity Day” is not an invention of Fal Asrani. She allowed it to happen, but it’s certainly not her “baby.” You can thank PAL for keeping it going year after year.

    Even so, It’s easy to bring in a few speakers, host a few group discussions and say that you’re “promoting awareness” without doing anything meaningful. “Diversity Day” has its uses in providing information but it doesn’t influence behavior any more than, say, a guest speaker on substance abuse would curb the rampant drug use on campus.

    It has to be backed up by direct intervention. You can’t just talk at the students, you have to be willing to get in and get your hands dirty on a case-by-case basis. Fal Asrani isn’t going to do that.

    She’ll smile and shake hands and promise the moon and the stars, but when the tough issue manifest in real life situations, she’ll do what she has to to keep it off her desk and out of the papers. That usually means sweeping it under the rug.

    Unfortunately for her, people are starting to look under the rug.

  • M Shane

    No. 15 · Attmay; La Cage Aux Folles is a gay theamed Play, much more so than Rent. I don’t think that the idea was to have a Gay play but to have a play that had some relivance to the students who will be growing up soon and confronted with similar posabilities in life. HIV is not something peculiar to gay people, but everyone.

    It frequently happens with descrimination that it just takes one bad egg in an organization to ruin the whole thing for others, and top cause the hurt that is irrepairable. When I think about places thart Rent would be good to be heard High Schools seem ideal,

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