A judge ruled
Tuesday that a high school student who sued after being
disciplined and then mercilessly teased for using the phrase
''That's so gay'' is not entitled to monetary damages.
Calif., superior court judge Elaine Rushing said she
sympathized with 18-year-old Rebekah Rice for the ridicule
she experienced at Maria Carrillo High School. But,
the judge said, Rice's lawyers failed to prove that
school administrators had violated any state laws or
singled the girl out for punishment.
''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,'' the judge wrote in a
20-page ruling. ''Unfortunately, this is part of what
teenagers endure in becoming adults.''
The law ''is
simply too crude and imprecise an instrument to
satisfactorily soothe deeply hurt feelings,'' Rushing said.
The case, filed
by Rice and her parents in 2003, brought widespread
attention to a three-word phrase that some teenagers use to
mean ''stupid'' or ''uncool'' but has come under
attack as an insensitive insult to gay people.
The Rices argued
that a teacher violated Rebekah Rice's First Amendment
rights by sending her to the principal's office and putting
a note in her school file. During a trial in February,
Rebekah testified that she said ''That's so gay'' in
response to other students asking her rude questions
about her Mormon upbringing.
Rushing said the
school district was not liable for monetary damages
because 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 nondiscrimination provisions of
the state education code.
The judge added
that it didn't make sense to have the referral stricken
from the girl's school record, since she graduated last
The lawsuit also
accused the public high school of having a double
standard because, it said, administrators never sought to
shield Rebekah from teasing based on Mormon
stereotypes. It also alleged that the Rices were
singled out because of the family's conservative views on
each claim, going so far as to suggest that the Rices
had created a miserable situation for Rebekah by advertising
their dissatisfaction with the school's handling of
the incident during her freshman year.
Neither the Rices
nor their lawyer returned telephone calls seeking
comment from the Associated Press. (AP)