A small-town teenager in Kansas who was bullied for years by classmates because they believed he was gay has been awarded $440,000 in a settlement, his lawyer said.
The settlement last month ended a long-running battle between the 1,500-student Tonganoxie school district and 18-year- old Dylan Theno, who sued in May 2004 claiming he was harassed with homophobic slurs from 7th grade until he quit school in his junior year. Tonganoxie, 20 miles west of Kansas City, has about 2,700 residents.
Under the terms, the school district and its insurance company will pay the cost of the settlement, said Mr. Theno’s lawyer, Arthur Benson. “I expect this case will have profound effects nationwide in dealing with schoolyard bullying and harassment,” Mr. Benson said. “Insurance companies will have a very powerful economic incentive to see that districts’ anti-harassment policies are aggressive and effective.”
The lawsuit had argued the district enforced its sexual-harassment policy when a female student was harassed, but didn’t in Mr. Theno’s case.
A federal jury in August had found in Mr. Theno’s favor, but the district appealed and a judge ordered a federal mediator to try to settle the dispute.
Mr. Theno, who testified that he isn’t gay, recently earned a General Educational Development credential and attends a vocational-technical school in Kansas City.
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