A gay bus driver for Atlanta Public Schools fired for using pepper spray to defuse a fight on his bus says he endured taunts, including anti-gay slurs, from students on his route.

The 34-year-old man says he complained to supervisors with the school system in the days leading up to the fight between students on his bus in early August, but officials did nothing to address them. When the fight broke out as his bus was parked at Maynard Jackson High School in southeast Atlanta, the man says he discharged the pepper spray in the air to stop it.

The man, a school bus driver for two years in Fulton County before joining APS this summer, said students on his bus repeatedly called him "faggot," "gay," "bitch," "mother fucker," "booty basher" and "whore" among other slurs. But the abuse turned physical during the altercation that started between students when he was punched in the face and shoved into the windshield.

"I can take the name calling, but I have an issue when a child puts his hands on an adult," the man says. "I have an issue with that and nothing is done about it, but the adult is brought up on charges when he is trying to ensure his safety and the safety of others on the bus."

WSB's Rachel Stockman first reported the bus driver's account on Aug. 26; he spoke with Project Q Atlanta on Wednesday. For both interviews, the man asked to not be identified.

"Those are just words. What makes it even worse is that they are coming out of children's mouths and adults think it's OK for a child to put their hands on an adult," he says.

Atlanta Public Schools includes "sexual orientation" in a list of protected categories in its anti-discrimination policy. But it's not clear what, if any, action was taken against the students the bus driver says slung anti-gay slurs at him. An APS spokesperson could not be reached on Wednesday.

The school system has said several students received medical attention for exposure to the spray, including 10 transported to the hospital. After an internal investigation, the school system fired the driver, according to the AJC.

APS also released a statement last week to WSB:

“We take the safety of our students and drivers very seriously -- it is our number one transportation concern.  In direct response to the bus driver's concerns, the driver's supervisor provided a second driver on the bus on both morning and afternoon routes to help with student discipline.  At the time of the incident, the bus was parked at the school, and the second driver sought help from a school administrator.

"The digital video recording devices on our buses were evaluated this summer.  Our transportation department is in the process of removing all inoperative camera systems with plans to purchase and install camera systems on all school buses.”

The bus driver says he documented the students' misbehavior and reported it to supervisors, who failed to take action. He says he knew he wasn't supposed to carry pepper spray on the bus but carries it for protection at another job where he valets vehicles. Yet, he was still surprised at being fired over the incident.

"I am appalled by it. I am still shocked by it. It shows that they are giving the children the upper hand and saying it's OK," the man says.

[Video, photo via WSB]