Student writes Ben Franklin report, teacher says he has a "thing for older men"


The Anoka-Hennepin School District is paying a high school student's family $25,000 in a settlement after two teachers made his perceived sexual orientation into a class joke. Teachers seem to now set their gaydars based on a student's choice of research topics.

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 waring women's clothes."

More from the Star Tribune:

"Would you like to have [another allegedly gay student] go with you so he can sit in the stall next to you and stomp his foot?" Cleveland asked the boy when he asked to go to the restroom, according to the report. She also allegedly said that the boy's "boat floats in a different direction than the rest of the guys in the class."

When a student in Filson's class talked about a deer that had been molested, the student said, according to the Human Rights report, "Hey, Mr. Filson, doesn't that sound like something [the student perceived to be gay] would do?" Filson allegedly agreed and laughed.

The school district still denies it violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act, but is paying the boy's family $25,000 as part of the settlement.

Sexual orientation discrimination charges in school districts are extremely rare, the Strib reports. Of the up to 1,300 charges filed each year between 2003 and 2008 with the Department of Human Rights, only four were based on sexual orientation in education.