San Francisco Two teens expelled from a Lutheran high school because of an alleged lesbian relationship can sue the school even though it is a private religious institution, the California Supreme Court ruled.
The court refused to consider California Lutheran High School's appeal of a lower court's ruling that the 16-year-old girls' civil rights may have been violated when they were kicked out in September.
In declining Wednesday to take up the case, justices cleared the students' lawsuit to go to trial. The suit filed in Riverside County Superior Court seeks readmission for the students, unspecified damages and an injunction barring the Wildomar school from excluding gays and lesbians.
California Lutheran, which has 142 students, argued that as a religious organization it had a First Amendment right to exclude gay students and that it was not subject to a state law prohibiting businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, which owns the school, considers homosexuality a sin.
The names of the girls were withheld in court documents. Their attorneys would not say whether they are lesbians.
The lawsuit alleges that principal Gregory Bork acted on thirdhand information when he questioned the girls about their relationship. Bork then wrote the students' parents, saying the teens' behavior violated school rules against conduct that is "contrary to Christian decency."