The California Supreme Court ruled last week that they will not hear an appeal in a case where a private Lutheran high school in the state expelled two students in 2005 based on suspicions that the students were lesbians. The 4th District Court of Appeals ruled in January that the school legally expelled the students. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar dissented.
According to an ACLU filing with the California Supreme Court, “The opinion could be construed, to contain a wholesale exemption for any private school that in its mission statement claims to ‘inculcate [its students] with a specific set of values.” The ACLU also wrote that the ruling confuses “when the Unruh act applies in the private school context” and also challenges “one of the express reasons Unruh applies to ‘business establishments’ — the refusal of a private school to make its facilities available to African-American students,” The Recorder reported.
The lower court’s ruling PDF argues that although the California Lutheran High School accepts tuition, “it is not a business establishment within the meaning of the Unruh Act; hence it [can] legally discriminate based on perceived sexual orientation.” The ruling relied heavily on a 1998 CA Supreme Court ruling that allows the Boy Scouts of America to legally exclude individuals on the basis of sexual orientation because the Boy Scouts are “not a business establishment within the meaning of the Unruh Civil Rights Act.”