Former Orange County high school student Vicki Ann Guest, who charged in a $1-million 1986 lawsuit that she was not chosen for her school's cheerleading squad because her breasts were too large, has agreed to a non-monetary settlement that includes an apology and adoption of a new school district policy on cheerleader selection.
The policy, approved by the Huntington Beach Union School District board late Tuesday, forbids selection of cheerleaders based on the shape and size of their breasts and also orders district employees not to discuss or recommend breast reduction or enlargement surgery to students.
"I'm happy today that I can finally feel normal about myself again. I don't find that I have to wear baggy clothes anymore or feel bad about my body," said Guest, 18, now a dance major at Chapman College in Orange. "I also feel good in the knowledge of knowing that hopefully this will not happen to any other student."
The district's superintendent, Lawrence Kemper, who was not in that post at the time of the incident, issued a statement saying that "the matter has been resolved in a manner that is acceptable to all parties. There are no monetary considerations; there will be adjustments to our policies and we have nothing further to add."
Although the lawsuit had asked for monetary damages from the district for emotional distress, Guest, her parents and her attorney, Gloria Allred, all said Wednesday that the main goal of the court action had not been monetary damages.
"I really felt I wanted to protect other students," said the mother, Ann Guest, who said she did not contact Allred until after school officials repeatedly ignored her complaints about the incident for six months.
Guest, who had been a cheerleader in elementary and junior high school, failed to make the squad at Fountain Valley High School. She said her adviser, Jean Clower, told her in April, 1986, that her scholastic average was acceptable and her physical skills surpassed those of other girls, but that she was not chosen because her breasts were too large. Clower suggested that she have breast-reduction surgery, Guest said.
Guest, who said that her breast size is not much different from that of many of the cheerleaders, complained that she suffered embarrassment and a loss of self-confidence as a result of the incident.
Contained in the settlement is an apology from Clower, school Principal Michael Kasler and the school district "for any damages and hardship suffered by Vicki Guest as a result of the unfortunate and inappropriate situation of a teacher suggesting breast-reduction surgery to her without first obtaining parental consent."
Clower, in a telephone interview Wednesday, refused comment on the settlement, except to say that when she discussed breast reduction with Guest, the student "connected it to the selection (of cheerleaders) and it wasn't related to that in any way."
According to Guest, the national publicity her case engendered surprised her but has proven beneficial rather than adding to her embarrassment.
"The attention I got from the public knowing about this was support. Everyone wanted to know how I was doing, if I was feeling OK," said Guest, who plans to become a professional dancer after college. "They weren't concerned with what I looked like or anything else. . . . They just gave me hugs and support and encouraged me."