Continued from page 1

Mr. Martin insisted that it was the principal’s decision to quash the play, not his.

“She’s lying,” he said. “Why would I cancel my own play?”

Even though the play ultimately won approval, Mr. Martin said the episode resulted in a change in the climate toward gays on campus. At one point, he said, the principal ordered the confiscation of the rainbow buttons that some students wore to protest the cancellation of “Rent.”

Then, some male students directed lesbian slurs at a female student from the “Rent” cast and threatened to sexually assault her. Three boys posted a video on Facebook in which they threatened to rape her in the back of a truck, and another male student was accused of threatening her on campus.The punishments - none exceeded a five-day suspension - have been widely criticized as too mild.

The ACLU lawsuit said the teacher assigned to investigate the incident was an assistant football coach and that the four boys were on the football team.

The school district “was in the process of attempting to resolve this matter” when the lawsuit was filed, according to the district statement.

The passage of Proposition 8 has resulted in accusations of harassment on both sides. Supporters of Proposition 8 have accused groups such as Californians Against Hate of targeting contributors to the campaign through hostile e-mails, phone calls and threats.

At Corona Del Mar High School, Mr. Martin blamed the principal for setting a tone of intolerance.

“We don’t have a huge, horrible gay-bashing problem on this campus. I’d always thought of us as a tolerant school,” he said. “We have several students who are gay, bisexual and lesbian, and nobody’s been physically hurt. But they had met with the ACLU and said they’d been hearing more things on campus, not just by students, but also a few teachers.

“The principal sets the tone at the school, and this principal has set that tone,” he said.