Gay Student Settles with School District

July 18, 2003 - Posted at: 2:38 p.m. CDT

JACKSONVILLE, Ark. -- A gay teenager has reached a $25,000 settlement with his former school district after he sued on grounds that school officials violated his freedom of speech.

Fourteen-year-old Thomas McLaughlin says teachers at Jacksonville Junior High School disciplined him for speaking about being gay. The suit also claimed that he was preached to from the Bible and that the school had told his parents that he was gay.

McLaughlin says he's is glad the suit is over and that no other students should have to endure what he went through.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the federal suit in April against the Pulaski County School District on behalf of McLaughlin.

McLaughlin, who will be a high school freshman in the coming school year, won't be attending a school in Jacksonville. The McLaughlins have moved from Arkansas to Louisiana for reasons they say are unrelated to the lawsuit.

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