Community members protest Anoka-Hennepin's response to teachers's gay slurs

Community members protest Anoka-Hennepin's response to teachers's gay slurs

Last week we told you about a high school student in the Anoka-Hennepin School District who will receive $25,000 after two teachers harassed him so much about his perceived sexuality that he was forced to move schools to get away from it. The student, who is straight, said the two teachers made jokes in front of entire classes of his peers, poking fun at his choice in research subjects and asking him if he wanted a gay student to follow him to the bathroom.

The report sparked outrage in the community after the two teachers faced minimal discipline for their actions and were never fired for the harassment. Protesters at the school board meeting last night demanded more training for teachers concerning gay students and some asked for the teachers to be fired.

The high school junior wrote a report on Ben Franklin during the 2007-2007 school year. His teacher, Diane Cleveland, told the entire class that the student had a "thing for older men." Cleveland also told the class the boy's "fence swings both ways," according to the Star Tribune report on the Minnesota Department of Human Rights investigation.

When the student wrote a report on Abraham Lincoln, teacher Walter Filson said, "Since you like your men older ..." Filson also told some students that the boy "enjoys wearing women's clothes."

Cleveland also asked him if he wanted a gay student to come to the bathroom with him and they could tap feet under the stalls. Filson even agreed and laughed along when a student compared Merritt to a person they discussed in class that had molested deer.

The student, Alex Merritt, made a surprise appearance at the meeting Monday when he heard community members were going to be there to speak in support of him.

More from the Pioneer Press:

Merritt stayed quiet during the meeting, but later spoke to the media.

"I wanted to give some support ... they should not be allowed to teach anymore," said Merritt, 18, who is enlisting in the U.S. Army. "I hope that the word gets out there so this doesn't happen to any other kids."

This weekend, the Star Tribune's D.J. Tice wrote a piece about the difficulty schools face in disciplining teachers in this type of situation.

KSTP has video of the meeting:

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