Charlene Nguon, shown here at the ACLU
of Southern California's office on the day
her lawsuit was filed, is fighting back after
repeated unfair discipline by her school.
Charlene Nguon, 17, is a senior at Santiago High School in Orange County, California. Until last year, she was a straight-A student with a spotless disciplinary record. But throughout the 2004-2005 school year, her high school repeatedly singled her out for discipline (including a one-week suspension), revealed Nguon’s sexual orientation to her family without the student’s permission, and forced her to transfer to another school in the middle of the second semester. What was Charlene’s big offense? She occasionally showed affection towards her girlfriend – even though heterosexual students are routinely allowed to hold hands, hug, and kiss on campus.
The ACLU’s national Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, the ACLU of Southern California, and the law firm of Latham & Watkins, LLP, brought a lawsuit on behalf of Nguon and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network in September of 2005. The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California, seeks to clear Nguon of any unfair discipline on her record and create a district-wide policy and guidelines to ensure that gay and lesbian students are treated equally.
Status: Loss. The Court ruled that Charlene's rights under the Equal Protection Clause and the First Amendment were not violated, and also ruled that her privacy rights under the California Constitution were not violated.