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

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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.

EARLIER
• 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