A California appeals court ruled this week that a private Christian school has the right to expel two students over an alleged lesbian relationship that was in violation of the organization’s “Christian Conduct” rule.
In a 3-0 ruling, the Fourth District Court of Appeals upheld California Lutheran High School’s right, as a private, religious organization, to use religious criteria in making admission and discipline decisions.
The school is not a business enterprise, the appeals court ruled on Monday, and therefore not covered in the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
“The school’s religious message is inextricably intertwined with its secular functions,” wrote Justice Betty A. Richli in the appeals court opinion. “The whole purpose of sending one’s child to a religious school is to ensure that he or she learns even secular subjects within a religious framework.”
The Riverside County-based school had expelled the two girls, then 16, for having a “bond of intimacy” that was “characteristic of a lesbian relationship,” this after the girls admitted they had hugged and kissed each other and told other students they were lesbians.
The two students, who were only identified in court documents as Jane Doe and Jane Doe, sued the school for violating state anti-discrimination laws.
This is a great victory that I hope will set a precedent for religious schools everywhere in being able to enforce their rules of conduct and maintain their religious and moral views.