For nearly four years Jamie Nabozny endured antigay verbal and physical abuse by fellow students at his public high school in Ashland, Wisconsin. Students threatened him, urinated on him and when they found him alone kicked him so many times in the stomach that he required surgery. School officials were aware of the abuse, saying that Nabozny should expect it if he’s gay, and at another point telling him not to act so gay. After attempting suicide several times, Nabozny dropped out of school and ran away. But the story was not over. In 1995, Nabozny sued his former school, but a federal district judge ruled that a school cannot be held liable for the actions of students and that no equal protection claim was presented by Nabozny’s case. Lambda Legal took over his case before a federal appeals court, which issued the first judicial opinion in the nation’s history finding that a public school could be held accountable for not stopping antigay abuse. The case went back to trial and a jury found the school officials liable for the harm they caused to Nabozny. The case then settled for close to $1 million.
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