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Student Settles Racism Game Suit for $8,000

June 29, 1989|ESTHER SCHRADER | Times Staff Writer

A former Glendale parochial school student has settled for $8,000 a lawsuit she filed after refusing to participate in what she called a humiliating classroom exercise.

The settlement negotiated in Glendale Superior Court last week marked resolution of a lawsuit filed by Gabrielle Sanchez-Goyen and her parents in 1987. The girl, then 13, claimed that she was forced to leave Holy Family High School after she decided not to play "The Color Game," which is designed to teach about racism. Her suit originally asked for $2.1 million in damages.

Named in the suit were the school, its principal, the teacher who supervised the game and the Los Angeles Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church.

The game is supposed to teach what it is like to be discriminated against. It has been played at schools and colleges throughout the country since it was developed 10 years ago by Ray Otero, an Occidental College instructor.

Each student is assigned one of four rigidly defined social classes, with the lower classes expected to kowtow to the upper.

Sanchez-Goyen was asked to play a version of the game as part of a social justice class in November, 1987. She filed the lawsuit after playing the game for one day.

The settlement was negotiated by Judge Robert P. Schifferman. Sanchez-Goyen's attorney, William H. Hornaday, said his clients intend to use the money to help pay for the girl's education. Now 15, she will be a freshman at UCLA in the fall.

An attorney for the defendants would not comment on the settlement.

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