The following is an excerpt from an Associated Press article. Any opinions either stated or suggested are not necessarily those of GLSEN or its members.
A Little Rock, Arkansas teenager disciplined by his school district for talking about being gay will get $25,000, an apology from school officials and his disciplinary record cleared.
Thomas McLaughlin, 14, of Jackson settled his lawsuit Thursday against the Pulaski County Special School District, which disciplined him for speaking to his junior high classmates about his sexual orientation.
"I'm really glad that this is all over," McLaughlin said Thursday. "No more students should have to go through what I did."
In a statement issued through his secretary, Superintendent Don Henderson said the school district was satisfied with the settlement.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in April, alleging teachers disciplined McLaughlin for his remarks as well as preached to him from the Bible and told his parents that he was gay.
Before the lawsuit was filed, the district wrote the ACLU saying that McLaughlin's discussions disrupted the learning process and argued that it was appropriate to discipline him.
A general condition of the settlement requires that the school district not disclose a student's sexual orientation or punish a student for talking about his or her sexual orientation outside the classroom.
The ACLU hopes other schools will learn from the suit, said Rita Sklar, who directs the ACLU in Arkansas.
"Public schools aren't above the Constitution," she said, "and they can't get away with silencing gay students and violating their rights."