Current Affairs

Mormon student loses gay jibe lawsuit

PinkNews Staff Writer May 18, 2007
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A judge has ruled against Rebekah Rice, the famed 18-year-old student who sued her school because she was punished by the administration and bullied by other kids for saying “That’s so gay.”

Rice and her parents originally first sued the school in 2003. The case put a spotlight on the phrase and its derogatory meaning.

Rice made the remark after students teased her about her Mormon upbringing, asking if she had 10 moms.

It was then that Rice said, “That’s so gay.”

According to MSNBC, Rice said she did not mean the phrase as a slur, and just said it to mean the remark about the mothers was stupid, silly and dumb.

However, the school administration said they needed to take a strong stance after a previous incident in which students were paid to beat up a gay student.

“The district has a statutory duty to protect gay students from harassment,” the school district’s lawyers said in a legal brief.

“In furtherance of this goal, prohibition of the phrase ‘That’s so gay’ … was a reasonable regulation.”

The judge’s reasoning for the ruling was that Rice’s lawyers did not show that the school had done anything unlawful, or that they had solely picked out Rice for discipline.

But the lawsuit claimed that Rice and her family were targeted due to their conservative leanings.

Judge Elaine Rushing said she felt bad for Rice, but that being teased and disciplined was just part of being a teen in school.

“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.

“Unfortunately, this is part of what teenagers endure in becoming adults,” she wrote in the ruling.

“The law, with all its majesty and might, is simply too crude and imprecise an instrument to satisfactorily soothe deeply hurt feelings.”

Judge Rushing said Rice was not entitled to receive money because the Rices sued under a law that does not apply to schools.

She suggested that the girl’s family was just making the event harder for their daughter to bear by going forward so publicly with their feelings at the way the school dealt with the situation when Rice was a freshman.

“If the Rice family had not told everyone that Rebekah had been given a referral for saying ‘That’s so gay’ then no one else would have know it either, and she would not have been referred to as the ‘That’s so gay girl,'” the judge said in her ruling, according to AP.

The Rice family has not commented since the ruling has been handed down.

© 2007; All Rights Reserved

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