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MN School District Settles Anti-Gay Bullying Lawsuits

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The students who sued Minnesota’s largest school district over its handling of anti-gay bullying and harassment say they’re excited to return to what’s expected to be a safer learning environment.

[DYLON FREI]: “I’m just happy and excited that I can go to school and finally be able to feel safe there and have a voice and tell my teachers and my parents how I feel and how I’m feeling. And if I do get bullied, I can go to my principal and know that she’s going to take care of me and know that I can go to school everyday and feel that safety.”

Frei–along with five other student plaintiffs–reached a settlement with the Anoka-Hennepin school district on Monday, in which it agreed to pay the youth a total of $270,000. It also said it would implement a five-year “consent decree” that includes court-ordered review of the district’s harassment policies and the hiring of mental health professionals to assist student victims. Both the U.S. Departments of Jusice and Education will monitor the district’s progress on the decree.

Plaintiff Kyle Rooker says the agreement, which is still awaiting approval from a federal judge, is “extremely necessary.”

[ROOKER]: “I moved out of the district out of fear, but I don’t want others to have to also. I feel that you should be welcome anywhere you go.”

Federal officials say they’re look forwarding to working with the Anoka-Hennepin School District so that it may “become a model for schools nationwide.”

The students originally filed suit against the district over its controversial “neutrality” policy, which asked teachers to remain silent on gay-related issues in the classroom. That mandate has since been replaced.

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