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High School Sued for 'Homophobic' Environment

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LA Times: More than a month after controversy erupted over Corona del Mar High School's reported cancellation -- then rescheduling -- of a production of "Rent," the American Civil Liberties Union sued school officials Wednesday for fostering a "sexist" and "homophobic" atmosphere.

While the complaint cites the show's brief cancellation as one example, much of it focuses on the aftermath of a Facebook video posted in January in which three Corona del Mar football players threatened to rape and kill a female classmate and used slurs to describe homosexuals. The video was posted on the online profile of a fourth student, who reportedly threatened the young woman at school. The video has since been removed.

School officials, according to the ACLU, did little to punish the boys or protect the young woman, even after her parents repeatedly expressed concerns about her safety.

"School and district officials, through their action and inaction, have not only failed to take steps to address this hostile environment, but they have contributed to it and given sanction to it," read the 36-page complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District was "attempting to resolve this matter" after the ACLU contacted officials last week, according to a district statement.

"These allegations are very serious and the district will utilize its best efforts to ascertain the truth of these matters, as well as to be sure there are procedures" to promptly resolve discrimination and harassment disputes, said district Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard.

Officials described the lawsuit as containing "numerous factual errors and mistakes."

The ACLU has seen a surge in calls from across the state complaining of school bullying based on sexual orientation after the passage of Proposition 8 last fall, which amended the state Constitution to ban gay marriage.

In the last decade, a number of lawsuits have been brought on behalf of gay students in California: Girls punished for kissing in a Garden Grove high school; students harassed near the Bay Area and intimidated in Los Angeles and San Diego counties; and others beaten, raped or spit on elsewhere, according to the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

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