"Preventing GLBT Motivated Hate Crimes via Education"


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The Roosevelt Institution Washington, D.C.
25 Ideas Publication
Featured Author July 2008

• Authored a policy brief advocating for the prevention of hate crimes through comprehensive educational reform

Pino, Daniel. “Preventing GLBT-Motivated Hate Crimes Via Education.” 25 Ideas for Community Development. Vol 2, No 2 (Washington, D.C, The Roosevelt Institution, July 2008).

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"Preventing GLBT Motivated Hate Crimes via Education"

  1. 1. Pino 1 Topic: Educational Prevention of GLBT-Motivated Hate Crimes THE IDEA: By implementing a comprehensive educational policy focused on the awareness of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) identities within its school systems, the United States will expect to see a decrease in GLBT-motivated Hate Crimes within ten years. By Daniel Pino, George Mason University Key Facts: - The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that 7,722 hate crimes that occurred in 2006, 1,197 of crimes were motivated from sexual-orientation bias; a 20% increase of from statistics filed in 2005. - In a 2005 statement by the Southern Poverty Law Center, “Homosexuals are far more likely to suffer violent attacks than any other group…gays and lesbians are physically attacked in bias-motivated crimes six times more often than Jews or Hispanics and twice as frequently as blacks1” Hate crimes against GLBT individuals are on the rise in the United States as demonstrated by the recent findings by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Despite these alarming statistics, there is no federal protection provided to GLBT individuals on the basis of hate crimes. As of December 2007, attempts to include GLBT Americans in the federally protected mandates of hate crimes have failed; GLBT individuals are still denied federal protection. While the federal government continually demonstrates its unwillingness to include GLBT status as a protected minority group, the majority of the American public favors it. A 2007 Gallup poll revealed that 78% of respondents supported the expansion of federal hate crime laws to include crimes committed on the basis of the victim’s gender identity and sexual orientation. The majority support for GLBT-inclusive hate crime legislation, demonstrates a key shift in public opinion regarding the acceptability of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals within American society. In 2000 Gallup polls revealed that 54% of Americans found homosexuality “acceptable,” a sharp contrast from the 38% of public support reported in 19922. As a result of the greater openness and acceptance of GLBT identified individuals by the American public, an increasing number of GLBT Americans are “coming out” at younger ages. However, despite this dramatic shift in public acceptance and greater numbers of GLBT youths, educational institutions are not revamping their policies to protect the emergence of GLBT students. This lack of GLBT protectionist policies coupled with the decreasing ages of GLBT hate crime offenders, American high schools are reporting an increase in homophobic activities directed towards GLBT individuals. In 2003, the Gay and Lesbian Student Educational Network (GLSEN) found that 17% of high school students were physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and 1 Southern Poverty Law Center. “Report: Anti-gay Movement Gains Momentum.” June 2005. http://www.splcenter.org/center/splcreport/article.jsp?aid=152. 22 March 2008. 2 Elias, Marilyn. “Gay teens coming out earlier to peers and family.”USA Today. 7 Feb 2007. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-02-07-gay-teens-cover_x.htm. 20 March 2008.
  2. 2. Pino 2 11.5% due to their gender expression3. In 2005, these statistics increased to 17.6% for sexual orientation and 11.8% for gender expression. Cross Analysis of 2005 & 2006 Hate Crime Statistics As Reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation 3 “GLSEN's 2005 National School Climate Survey Sheds New Light on Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Students.” GLSEN. http://www.glsen.org/cgi- bin/iowa/all/library/record/1927.html. Physical violence against GLBT students possesses negative implications for each school district’s academic success rates stipulated by the No Child Left Behind Act. On average, schools without comprehensive policies for GLBT protection experience lower test scores than schools with such policies, as students who suffer physical harassment due to their sexual orientation or gender identity earn lower GPAs (2.6 versus 3.1 on a 4.0 scale)4. By protecting GLBT students, school districts across the country will improve their academic rates, thereby increasing their received federal funds. Achievement of these goals is conditional upon the adoption of the proposed multiplatform initiative: Include GLBT Status in Non-Discrimination Policies Presently school districts across the country afford students the right to freely attend and participate within the public school system regardless of “race, sex, color, disability, religion, or national origin”5. GLBT status, however, is not specifically mentioned under Equal Opportunity, Sexual Harassment, and Student Organization policies presently stipulated. Therefore, GLBT identity must be 4 Ibid. 5 Green, Finian & Horton, CPA. School District of Greenville County Management’s Discussion and Analysis for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2006. http://www.gfandh.com/sdgc/2006report_financial.pdf 10 Oct 2006
  3. 3. Pino 3 specifically included within these policies to protect the positive educational, physical, emotional, and social development of GLBT students. Educate School Officials about Needs of GLBT Students Enforcement of policies is conditional upon teaching teachers the importance of of GLBT student needs. Through implementation of GLBT-based educational training seminars for faculty members modeled after programs developed by the National Coalition Building Institute (NCBI)6, school boards ensure the affordance of administrative allies versed in GLBT student needs, which positively affects the security, performance, attendance, and retention of GLBT students7. Fund GLBT-Student Groups 1984 Federal Equal Access Act states that all student groups may be recognized by school boards on the basis that the districts receive federally allocated funds and possess limited open forums8. Given the stipulations stated by the Equal Access Act, schools must allow for the conglomeration of students within Gay Straight Alliances within their school districts in order to allow for the right of free association of GLBT students, ensure the positive development of GLBT students, and curb anti-GLBT sentiments in heterosexual students. According to the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educational Network (GLSEN), schools which possess a “comprehensive policy” dedicated to GLBT protection witness a lower incidence of verbal, physical and sexual harassment among student populations9. In 1984, the Harvey Milk High School opened in New York City as an alternative high school option for students tormented by homophobic bullying and harassment. In 2002 the school became an accredited four-year public institution by the New York City Department of Education and has maintained a 95% student graduation rate since that date. Therefore, the success of these programs is both vital and successful to other districts. 6 National Coalition Building Institute. "The Leadership Development Institute." http://www.ncbi.org/what_we_offer/Workshop___Training_Descriptions/. 3 February 20008. 7 Ibid 8 Code 4071. Denial of Equal Access Prohibited. Cornell Law School. http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/20/4071.htm. 27 Nov 2007 9 Ibid.