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Southern California School Employees Allege Antigay Bias

Southern California School Employees Allege Antigay Bias


Employees from two Southern California school districts, Mitch Stein and Holly Marvin, are alleging antigay discrimination on the part of their employers.

Stein, former assistant water polo coach at Charter Oak High School in Covina, who has a daughter, Devynn, on the team, claims he was fired last month because he is gay, the Whittier Daily News reports. Stein, an alumnus who coached during the summer, said principal Kathleen Wiard fired him after she received an anonymous letter criticizing pictures found on his social media pages.

The letter included two photos of Stein, one posing with two drag queens and the other of him about to eat a corn dog, and said that Stein was "unfit to coach" and threatened to turn to the school board if he was not terminated immediately.

Stein said he promised that the pictures would be removed, but Wiard would not reconsider his release.

Stein has now filed a discrimination complaint against the school district, saying he was fired because of being gay. Superintendent Mike Hendricks, citing privacy laws, said he was unable to discuss the exact reason Stein was fired, but it had nothing to do with his sexuality.

"I can say, and so can any other superintendent, that there are laws that protect -- that ensure -- that we do not discriminate against any individual," Hendricks told the Daily News. "We do not discriminate against anyone."

Since Stein's termination, a Facebook page called "Wipe Out Homophobia on Facebook" listed district phone numbers encouraging others to call and plead for Stein's reinstatement.

"Mitch shouldn't have had [the pictures] up is what it amounts to," said Greg Ortega, a parent who wrote in support of Stein. "[But] poor taste in my opinion is not a reason to get fired. It's more of a reason for discipline."

Marvin, from Huntington Beach, says the Ocean View School District is trying to force her out of her job as communications supervisor, The Orange County Register reports, both because she is a lesbian and as part of a plan by some in the district to remove veteran employees.

In a lawsuit filed against the district in Orange County Superior Court, Marvin says she struck an agreement with former superintendent Alan Rasmussen to telecommute every other week from Maryland, with alternate weeks in Huntington Beach, to keep her job and benefit package, but administrators are now making her life miserable in attempt to get rid of her. Her wife had received a promotion with the Department of Homeland Security, necessitating a move to the Washington, D.C., area for the couple, and because the federal government does not recognize their marriage, Marvin is not eligible for her wife's benefits.

Marvin said she discussed her telecommuting agreement with William Loose, who was named district superintendent last November and took over the job in March. He notified her in May that she needed to work exclusively in Huntington Beach if she wanted to keep her job, the lawsuit says, and that having her telecommute was not in the best interests of the district.

Betsy A. Stansell, Marvin's lawyer, said Loose was forcing Marvin to choose between her family and her health benefits, which amounts to discrimination based on sexual orientation. She also claims Loose harassed Marvin by informing other employees she would be leaving and making her work environment unsatisfactory.

"Holly Marvin has been there 23 years and they're trying to get rid of her by just making her life miserable," Stansell said. The suit also alleges the district has forced out six other veteran workers, part of a plan to get rid of all employees over 40.

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Andi Alexander