common occurrence for lgbt students

Miami Herald Typepad:Palm Coast, FL – The ACLU of Florida today announced an agreement in negotiations with the Flagler County School District in the case of Luke Herbert, a Flagler Palm Coast High School student who was harassed for being gay by both students and one of his teachers. Herbert, a 15-year-old freshman, had been bullied and threatened by fellow students at school and on Facebook and was physically attacked at school by another student who regularly taunted him with anti-gay slurs. Although Herbert reported several instances of bullying and harassment to school officials, the bullying and harassment got worse. “I reported the bullying to the administration but it never seemed to change anything. I felt alone and it made me stop wanting to go to school,” said Herbert. “My breaking point came when one of my teachers started telling anti-gay jokes and mocking me in front of the entire class.” As a result of being tormented by his peers and teacher, Herbert stopped attending classes and faced the possibility of failing the ninth grade. At that time, the ACLU of Florida intervened on Herbert’s behalf. “What happened to Luke is inexcusable, but unfortunately is an all-too-common occurrence for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students,” said ACLU of Florida LGBT Advocacy Project Attorney Shelbi Day. “Schools have an obligation to ensure that teachers and students understand that bullying and harassment of any student is prohibited and to act swiftly and appropriately to address it when it occurs” (ACLU reaches agreement with Flagler County Schools to address harassment of LGBT students).

Flaglerlive: Jokes about sexual orientation, like bullying over sexual orientation—which has led to a spate of killings in recent months (see the Ellen DeGeneres video below)—have yet to have the same level of inadmissibility as racial discrimination, even in law and regulations: it’s only late last year that the federal government abandoned its discriminatory don’t-ask-don’t-tell rule in the military, and many states, Florida among them, only recently enacted constitutional prohibitions on gay marriage. The state-sanctioned double standards have consequences: Luke’s case is not isolated. “It’s a big problem, really throughout Florida and across the United States,” Day said Thursday evening. “Kids who are bullied and harassed are done so at the highest rate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or physical characteristics.” Media attention over the last eight months or so, resulting from a string of gay teen suicides, has gotten more people’s attention. But, Day said, “it’s tragic that something like a child’s death has to occur before people start paying attention.” Luke’s actions set out other options “so that kids don’t feel so desperate so they turn to something like ending their own life.” Missteps aside, Day said, the school district finally “stepped up in a very meaningful way, we certainly applaud them for the comprehensive action that they’re committed to taking” (Bullying of Gay Student at FPC Leads to Teacher’s Public Apology and Policy Change).

OHRC: “Sexual orientation” is a personal characteristic that forms part of who you are. It covers the range of human sexuality from gay and lesbian, to bisexual and heterosexual orientations. Sexual orientation is different from gender identity, which is protected under the ground of “sex.” (SEXUAL ORIENTATION: Your Rights and Responsibilities).

RELATED READING: Is This The End Of Luke Herbert’s High School Bullying Nightmare?
The Gaily News: Fla. teacher to publicly apologize for mocking gay student
Bully Teacher to Publicly Apologize

“Hate crime”

Criminal Code of Canada: Hate Provisions “Hate” is defined as a crime under two parts of Canada’s Criminal Code: sections 318 and 319. To convict anyone under the Code, very specific proof is required: both of the criminal act itself, and of the intention or motivation to commit the crime. It isn’t enough that someone has said something hateful or untrue; the courts will only find someone guilty if they contravened the Code exactly, and if they did it deliberately. In most cases, hate propaganda communicated through the Internet is an offence under the Criminal Code. Amendments to the Code, made under the Anti-Terrorism Act in December 2001, further clarify measures and offences regarding Internet hate crimes (media-awareness.ca).

Hate crimes (also known as bias-motivated crimes) occur when a perpetrator targets a victim because of his or her perceived membership in a certain social group, usually defined by racial group, religion, sexual orientation, disability, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, gender identity, social status or political affiliation. “Hate crime” generally refers to criminal acts that are seen to have been motivated by bias against one or more of the types above, or of their derivatives. Incidents may involve physical assault, damage to property, bullying, harassment, verbal abuse or insults, or offensive graffiti or letters (hate mail) (Wikipedia).

RELATED READING: Measuring life: The lifespan of LGBT individuals
What is a hate crime?
Hate Crime in Canada
Hate crimes increase in Canada, StatsCan reports
Research – Hate Crimes
Hate crimes against gays doubled in Canada
Disproportionate Harm: Hate Crime in Canada
An Exploration of the Needs of Victims of Hate Crimes