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War of Words

By Amanda Jones — May 16, 2007 1 min read
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When California high school student Rebekah Rice uttered the phrase “That’s so gay” in class, her teacher responded by sending the teenager to the principal’s office and adding a note to her school record. Rice and her family decided to sue the school district over the teacher’s actions, claiming they violated Rebekah’s First Amendment rights. Rice, a Mormon, testified in February that the words were prompted by rude questions from classmates about her religious upbringing. The lawsuit also stated that high school administrators exhibited a double standard by not protecting Rebekah from classmates who teased her about Mormon stereotypes, and that the family had been unfairly singled out because of their conservative views on sexuality. Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Elaine Rushing ruled Tuesday that Rice would not be awarded monetary damages because there were no legal grounds to support her claim. “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 included in her 20-page ruling. “Unfortunately, this is part of what teenagers endure in becoming adults.” Rushing also blamed the Rice family for making such a big deal of the issue, saying it aggravated the teasing from peers.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.