teenager who was bullied for years by classmates in Kansas
because they believed he was gay was awarded $440,000 in a
harassment suit, his lawyer said. The settlement,
reached Thursday, ended a long-running battle
between the Tonganoxie school district and 18-year-old
Dylan Theno, who sued in May 2004, claiming he was harassed
with homophobic slurs from seventh grade until he quit
school his junior year.
Under the terms,
the school district and its insurance company will pay
Theno $440,000, said his attorney, Arthur Benson. "I expect
this case will have profound effects nationwide in
dealing with school-yard bullying and harassment,"
Benson said. "Insurance companies will have a very
powerful economic incentive to see that districts'
antiharassment policies are aggressive and effective."
that the district enforced its sexual harassment policy
when a female student was harassed but didn't in Theno's
case. Calls to the school district and its attorney,
Steven Pigg, were not immediately returned.
Tonganoxie, located 20 miles west of Kansas City, has about
In August a
federal jury had found in Theno's favor, but the district
appealed, and a judge ordered a federal mediator to try to
settle the dispute. Theno, who testified that he isn't
gay, recently earned his GED and attends a vocational
technical school in Kansas City. "I feel great," he
said about the settlement. "I mean, you have all that
lifted off your shoulders at once. The school district has
finally been held accountable for their actions." (AP)