A school form that Marcus McLaurin brought home last month said his use of the word was the reason for his punishment. His mother, Sharon Huff, complained to the American Civil Liberties Union, which demanded an apology and that the incident be removed from Marcus' record.
The Lafayette Parish School Board voted 5-3 Thursday night that it was "never the intent or purpose" to discipline the child for having used the word "gay."
The school board offered no further explanation.
ACLU lawyer Ken Choe expressed disappointment and said no new evidence had been produced to suggest that the boy had been punished for any reason other than the one given in the form.
"We feel this is revisionist history," Choe said. He said a lawsuit was an option.
Marcus got into trouble at school last month for telling another child his mother is gay. That's what it said on the form he brought home in his backpack.
Huff, 27, is divorced, lives with another woman, Heather Manley, and thinks of herself as a regular mother. She said it bothers her that the boy's school apparently felt she is something else.
"This is not a gay issue," she said. "This is an issue about all children and prejudice."
"I want them to apologize so he doesn't feel different," she said. "That's what this is about. This came up, and now he's confused. I want him to know he's not different."
The ordeal started with a disturbing phone call on Nov. 11 from the assistant principal at Ernest Gallet Elementary School in Youngsville, just south of town.
Marcus is in trouble, the school official had said, for using "foul words" and "talking inappropriately." It was so bad, Huff remembers him saying, and he "didn't feel comfortable" repeating them over the phone.
Worried, Huff agreed a conference was necessary. "I want to get to the bottom of this," she remembered telling the official, "See where he picked this up."
Lafayette schools superintendent James Easton said in a statement that "the discipline was related to ordinary student disturbances" and that "this entire matter was reported based on a lack of accurate information." He denied Marcus was disciplined for using the word "gay."