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ACLU, OC High School Settle 'Rent' Suit

0910_aclu The Newport-Mesa Unified school District in Orange County, Calif., has settled a lawsuit filed against it by the ACLU. According to the L.A. Times, the district will provide discrimination and harassment prevention training to Corona del Mar High School, where the lead actress in the school’s production of “Rent” was find herself the target of rape and death threats by varsity athletes earlier this year. Hail Ketchum, a 17-year-old actress currently studying theater at Loyal Marymount University responded to the recent settlement in stating, “I hope the students at Corona del Mar High School will learn from my experience that it’s possible to stand up for what is right and prevail.”

The lawsuit was filed in March after the school’s principal cancelled a production of “Rent: School Edition” because of questionable content, and members of the ACLU filed suit over claims that not showing a play involving gay characters, some with AIDS, was an example of intolerance. According to the suit, a video was posted on Facebook in January showed three football players threatening Ketchum and using slurs describing an allegedly gay student at the school. 

According to the Times story, the school did little to punish the athletes and it was not until the suit was filed that they ordered the players to stay away from Ketchum. The show did go on.

District spokeswoman Laura Boss told the Times, “We believe this training program will raise awareness for staff and students and will contribute to an overall positive environment at Corona del Mar High School.”

--Ashley Johncola

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