By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com March 18 2003 1:00 AM ET
A gay former teacher in New York's Hicksville School District has won $93,000 in a federal lawsuit in which he said he was fired because of his sexual orientation, Newsday reports. A U.S. district court in Islip awarded the money to Robert Visconti, 35, for damages and lost pay. Visconti taught criminal law and global studies at Hicksville High School from 1997 to 1999.
Brian Sokoloff, an attorney for the school district, said the district planned to appeal the decision, adding that Visconti was fired because he was "not a competent teacher," not because of his sexual orientation. Among other things, Sokoloff said, Visconti screened inappropriate movies to his students without permission. Those movies included Serpico, which is about police corruption and includes profanity, and Trinity and Beyond, a movie about the A-bomb that Sokoloff said is unbalanced because it is against the bombs' use and doesn't show how the bombs helped maintain peace during the Cold War.
Visconti said the movies he showed were appropriate and that the case would have been handled differently if he were heterosexual. In addition, he said he was often harassed by other staff members, including an administrator whom Visconti said would come up to him, place his face inches away from Visconti's face, and then walk away without speaking.