Boy hit with homophobic slurs from teachers

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A high school student from Minnesota, US, was harassed by two teachers who believed he was gay, according to the state’s Department of Human Rights.

The boy, who has not been named, received a $25,000 settlement from the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

An investigation found that Diane Cleveland and Walter Filson repeatedly made derogatory remarks about the boy’s perceived sexual orientation in class and allowed other students to make similar comments.

The issue began at the start of the 2007-2008 school year.

Cleveland was found to made comments such as: “[His] fence swings both ways” and also that he had a “thing for older men”.

Filson allegedly said the student enjoyed wearing women’s clothes.

The report found that the school district had subjected the student to “conduct severe or pervasive enough to create an environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive” on the basis of his perceived sexual orientation.

The school district has denied violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act. It acknowledged the boy had been subject to comments and innuendo but said it had handled the situation adequately.

Cleveland was temporarily suspended in January 2008 and it is not known whether Filson received any punishment. Both continue to work as teachers in the district.

Along with paying the settlement to the boy’s family, the school district has agreed to review existing policies and to announce Minnesota Human Rights Day in its daily emails.

The boy has since transferred to another school 25 miles from his home.

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