Minnesota's largest school district on Tuesday announced it had settled a pair of anti-gay bullying lawsuits, The New York Times reported.

The suburban Minneapolis Anoka-Hennepin district on Monday night approved a legal agreement with the federal government and six students who had sued the district.

The students claimed that they had suffered from the district's policy requiring staff to remain neutral when discussing the topic of sexual orientation. School officials scrapped the policy last month after six students committed suicide in less than two years, paving the way for the settlement.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen signed the agreement, which settles the student's lawsuit as well as a separate Justice Department investigation. Under the agreement, federal officials will monitor the district for five years.

Additionally, the district will implement steps designed to curb bullying, including hiring a mental health consultant to review how the district responds to harassment victims and ensuring students receive professional help when they need it.

The six students, who will receive a total payment of $270,000, were represented in their lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

“This historic agreement marks a fresh start for the Anoka-Hennepin School District,” SPLC attorney Sam Wolfe said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this district had become notorious for anti-LGBT hostility and discrimination. This consent decree sets the stage for Anoka-Hennepin to become a model for other school districts to follow in creating more respectful learning environments for all students in a thoughtful, systemic, and proactive way.”

In a conference call on Tuesday, Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, praised the agreement.

“This is not about whether to advocate gay marriage,” Perez said. “This is about safety.”

Laurie Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Parent's Action League, a group formed to preserve the district's policy, called the lawsuit an effort to “abolish conservative moral beliefs about homosexuality.”

“Making schools safe for 'gay' kids means indoctrinating impressionable, young minds with homosexual propaganda,” she told The Star Tribune in an email.

Fifteen-year-old Kyle Rooker, one of the plaintiffs, recounted during a news conference the torment he faced for being perceived as different.

He said he was happy that “kids coming up behind me in school won't have to suffer the same things that I did.” (Video of the news conference is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)