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Homophobia victims receive $270,000 cash settlement

Homophobia victims receive $270,000 cash settlement

Six American students will share $270,000 (£171,679, €205,495) after being harassed in their school because of ‘nonconformity’.

This has resulted in ground-breaking changes in Minnesota, designed to prevent gay bullying in what federal officials are calling a national model.

Minnesota’s largest school district, Anoka-Hennepin, approved a legal agreement with the federal government which has been investigating the district for human rights violations, The Star Tribune reported.

Under the agreement, the Department of Justice and Education will monitor the district for five years and the comprehensive plan will aim to prevent and address sexuality-based harassment, and improve the training and education of teachers and students.

Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, said he hoped the agreement would serve as a model for other schools.

‘This is not about whether to advocate gay marriage,’ Perez said. ‘This is about safety.’

Kyle Rooker, 15, told the Tribune he had endured name-calling, was shoved into lockers, and even urinated on because of his fondness for sparkly clothes and singing songs by Cher and Lady Gaga.

Kyle said: ‘I am happy this agreement will help the kids at Anoka-Hennepin be able to have a welcoming and safe environment.

‘I am glad kids coming up behind me in school won't have to suffer the same things that I did. And, hopefully, kids at Anoka-Hennepin schools will respect one another more, even if they are different.’

Minnesota has been at the heart of the homophobia in schools debate and how to teach and educate children on sexuality.

Many students said the schools' unsafe and hostile atmosphere, largely within Tea Party congresswoman Michelle Bachmann’s district, meant they were unable to learn.

The students challenged a district policy requiring staff to remain neutral when the topic of sexual orientation came up in the classroom, which they claimed was a gag order that prevented teachers from effectively protecting gay and lesbian students.

The policy came under fire after six district students, who were gay or seen as gay, committed suicide in less than two years.

Some Christian conservative parents did not agree, who had formed the Parents Action League (PAL) to preserve the neutrality policy.

PAL Spokeswoman Laurie Thompson told The Star Tribune: ‘Making schools safe for ‘gay’ kids means indoctrinating impressionable, young minds with homosexual propaganda.’