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 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit

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PostSubject: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Thu Mar 01, 2007 3:27 pm

'Thatís so gayí prompts a lawsuit
Student sent to principalís office insists it was not a homophobic putdown





SANTA ROSA, Calif. - When a few classmates razzed Rebekah Rice about her Mormon upbringing with questions such as, "Do you have 10 moms?" she shot back: "That's so gay."

Those three words landed the high school freshman in the principal's office and resulted in a lawsuit that raises this question: When do playground insults used every day all over America cross the line into hate speech that must be stamped out?

After Rice got a warning and a notation in her file, her parents sued, claiming officials at Santa Rosa's Maria Carillo High violated their daughter's First Amendment rights when they disciplined her for uttering a phrase "which enjoys widespread currency in youth culture," according to court documents.



Testifying last week about the 2002 incident, Rice, now 18, said that when she uttered those words, she was not referring to anyone's sexual orientation. She said the phrase meant: "That's so stupid, that's so silly, that's so dumb."

But school officials say they took a strict stand against the putdown after two boys were paid to beat up a gay student the year before.

"The district has a statutory duty to protect gay students from harassment," the district's lawyers argued in a legal brief. "In furtherance of this goal, prohibition of the phrase 'That's so gay' ... was a reasonable regulation."

Superior Court Judge Elaine Rushing plans to issue a ruling in the non-jury trial after final written arguments are submitted in April. Her gag order prevents the two sides from discussing the case.

A confusing set of terms
Derogatory terms for homosexuality have long been used as insults. But the landscape has become confusing in recent years as minority groups have tried to reclaim terms like "queer," "ghetto" and the n-word.

In recent years, gay rights advocates and educators have tried teaching students that it is hurtful to use the word "gay" as an all-purpose term for something disagreeable. At Berkeley High School, a gay student club passed out buttons with the words "That's so gay" crossed out to get their classmates to stop using them.

Rick Ayers, a retired teacher who helped compile and publish the "Berkeley High School Slang Dictionary," a compendium of trendy teen talk circa 2001, said educating students about offensive language is preferable to policing their speech.



"I wouldn't be surprised if this girl didn't even know the origin of that term," he said. "The kids who get caught saying it will claim it's been decontextualized, but others will say, `No, you know what that means.' It's quite talked about."

Rice's parents, Elden and Katherine Rice, also claim the public high school employed a double-standard because, they say, administrators never sought to shield Rebekah from teasing based on Mormon stereotypes.

Daughter singled out, parents say
In addition, the Rices say their daughter was singled out because of the family's conservative views on sexuality. They are seeking unspecified damages and want the disciplinary notation expunged from Rebekah's school record.

Eliza Byard, deputy executive director of the New York-based Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, said nearly nine out of 10 gay students her organization surveyed in 2005 reported hearing "That's so gay" or "You're so gay" frequently.

"It bothers them a lot," Byard said. "As odd or funny as the phrase sounds, imagine what it feels like to be in a setting where you consistently hear it used to describe something undesirable or stupid, and it also refers to you."

She said it is OK to discipline students for using the phrase after efforts have been made to educate them.

"The job of a school is to deal proactively and consistently with all forms of bullying, name-calling and harassment," she said.

Jordan Lorence, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization, agreed "That's so gay" carries a negative meaning and said he would not want his children to say it. But he said formal discipline is not the answer.

"Reasonable people should say, `Let's put a stop to this kind of search-and-destroy mission by school officials for everything that is politically incorrect,'" he said.
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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Thu Mar 01, 2007 3:34 pm

No, this schoo district is gay.

I have to admit I say "that's so gay" on occasion. But I don't mean it bad against gay people or anything.

Like the story says, it's come to mean "that's so stupid, that's so silly, that's so dumb."

And it doesn't mean gay people are any of those things, not at all. I don't know how it came about. I blame the internet.

I know a lot of gay people, have gay friends, and I've heard them say it.

Plus, it's not like the girl called the fags or something.

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Thu Mar 01, 2007 3:46 pm

Wait... so it's okay to tease her about being mormon, and say RUDE ass comments. But she says one back, not meaning an insult, at all, from what I can tell (and I'm gay, and I wasn't insulted) and she's in trouble?

What a f'd up school, city, etc...

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Thu Mar 01, 2007 4:05 pm

you know, I say "that's so gay." and I have nothing against gay people, i've said it in front of my gay friends and they say it to me all the time. I've never met anyone who has gotten offended by that phrase b/c everyone knows what it means.

and yeah, they can make fun of her b/c she's mormon but God forbid she say something back? rude. this school is stupid. good for the parents for suing.
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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Thu Mar 01, 2007 4:51 pm

Lawless wrote:
Wait... so it's okay to tease her about being mormon, and say RUDE ass comments. But she says one back, not meaning an insult, at all, from what I can tell (and I'm gay, and I wasn't insulted) and she's in trouble?

What a f'd up school, city, etc...

Serious, what about them totally dissing her religion? That's jacked.

What's your stance on the "that's gay" comment people use.

-HECK!

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:20 pm

I can't believe that she got in trouble. At the most she should have gotten a visit with the counsellor as well as the other girl too! They both should be in there talking about not calling names, but to get one and not the other is lame. Hell a lot of kids don't know what it means. At least they don't in Elementary School. I had one kid whispering about another kid being a "lesbo" and he thought it had something to do with stealing cookies.

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Thu Mar 01, 2007 7:10 pm

Laughing omg, that's hilarious. does that mean cookie monster's a 'lesbo'? WHAT ARE THEY TEACHING THESE KIDS ON SESAME STREET!
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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Fri Mar 02, 2007 12:31 am

HECK! wrote:
Lawless wrote:
Wait... so it's okay to tease her about being mormon, and say RUDE ass comments. But she says one back, not meaning an insult, at all, from what I can tell (and I'm gay, and I wasn't insulted) and she's in trouble?

What a f'd up school, city, etc...

Serious, what about them totally dissing her religion? That's jacked.

What's your stance on the "that's gay" comment people use.

-HECK!

Actually, I didn't think anything bad of the "That's gay" comment, at all.
Whatever... really.
People toss that out, all the time. I could care less what they think.
In all actuality, it's no different then calling a black person the "n" word.
It's personal...
But, I'm just too tired to care.
People aren't going to change...
You get offended by something, but say something else, to another, to hurt them, in a way that's just as wrong.
Seriously... when will people just stop judging others, and live their own f'n lives.

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Fri Mar 02, 2007 1:46 am

.......if you had 10 mums, that would be kinda gay, though, wouldn't it? I mean for the 10 mums.



I think the teacher's words were much more out of line than the students.

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Fri Mar 02, 2007 11:47 am

I think something like fag would be closer to the N.

To be honest, I think white males make fun of everyone... when no one else is around of course.

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Sat Mar 03, 2007 12:07 am

Damn right we do.


Funny how words like gay and spastic... they're very quickly becoming derogative terms, when they weren't only a few years ago. Not gonna have many words left to use if things keep going this way.

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:38 am

True that. That's why I bring back things that were totally fightin' words back in the day. Like calling someone a duded up egg sucker was really bad. Yup, bringing egg sucker back. And smelly twat. That'll be gold.

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Mon Mar 05, 2007 6:07 pm

HECK! wrote:
I think something like fag would be closer to the N.

To be honest, I think white males make fun of everyone... when no one else is around of course.

-HECK!


Mexicans males are worse. When I hang around the Mexicans at work, they always talk the trash, use the N word, go all out. Talk about Whitey. Gays, fat women, retards.

I explain you can't do that, but it don't sink in. They say what they want.

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Tue Mar 06, 2007 3:51 am

HECK! wrote:
I think something like fag would be closer to the N.
-HECK!

that's what i was going to say. I think comparing gay to the n word is stretching a bit.

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Tue Mar 06, 2007 3:57 am

Whidden wrote:
HECK! wrote:
I think something like fag would be closer to the N.

To be honest, I think white males make fun of everyone... when no one else is around of course.

-HECK!


Mexicans males are worse. When I hang around the Mexicans at work, they always talk the trash, use the N word, go all out. Talk about Whitey. Gays, fat women, retards.

I explain you can't do that, but it don't sink in. They say what they want.

just ask to see their green card.

that shuts 'em up real quick.
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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Tue Mar 06, 2007 1:26 pm

I'm just saying... name calling is name calling. It's no different, if you have foul intent behind it. Trust me... I've been on the side of having someone taunt me, viciously, with the words to slam a gay person. It's not different.

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Tue Mar 06, 2007 1:40 pm

If it's about intent that the "that's so gay" comment is moot.

-HECK!

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Wed Mar 07, 2007 9:53 pm

Whidden wrote:
HECK! wrote:
I think something like fag would be closer to the N.

To be honest, I think white males make fun of everyone... when no one else is around of course.

-HECK!


Mexicans males are worse. When I hang around the Mexicans at work, they always talk the trash, use the N word, go all out. Talk about Whitey. Gays, fat women, retards.

I explain you can't do that, but it don't sink in. They say what they want.

It's a machismo thing. They are horrible. Ron always tells me about guys like that on construction sites. They are little piss ant painters and they talk crap in Spanish about the white guys on the site. Ron listens, then he says to them in Spanish that they should shut up because he knows what they are saying. That coming from a 6'4 guy is a scary thing.

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PostSubject: Re: 'That's so gay' prompts student lawsuit   Thu Mar 08, 2007 11:58 am

Let's not generalize though, it's not all Mexicans obviously, but I know the type you're talking about.

When I do hear it I laugh then go home and check my bank account and squeeze my nipples with glee.

-HECK!

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