Community Outreach Thoughts and Information Regarding the Orlando Hate Crime Shooting

In the face of hate crimes, our first concern is to embrace and support with solidarity those in our community who are part of the group being targeted.

It is understandable that in the aftermath of such a violent hate crime that the group targeted may experience a vicarious traumatization by reason of the lethal hate directed toward LGBT people. It is also an assault on their increasing hope that the world is becoming more open and accepting of everyone no matter their sexual orientation, gender or expression. Evidence of continued targeting and hate is physically and emotionally painful. It is to counter this fear and feeling that we want our members and all LGBT people to know that we stand with them and are available to provide support in any way that is needed.

Part of support is being informed of the degree of hate crimes and violence that persists against LGBT people. Listed below are some notes from a “Research Overview: Hate Crimes and Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People”. Written by Michelle A. Marzullo and Alyn J. Libman. For a full read of the study, click on the above link.  In addition, the following blog, written by AGPA Community Outreach Co-Chair Dr. Suzanne Phillips: "How Do We Cope with Hate Crimes? Three Considerations," may be of help.

LGBT hate crimes are usually crimes against people. Like racially and ethnically-motivated violence, sexual orientation bias crimes are more frequently committed against persons than property. For violent bias crimes overall, “sexual orientation crimes are more severe for crimes against the person than both racial/ethnic (M=2.78) and religious (M=0.68) hate crimes” (Dunbar 2006,329-330). The most common hate crimes committed against lesbians, gays and bisexuals are physical assault and/or intimidation. Tragically, five of the nine nationally reported hate crime murders in 2007 were motivated by sexual orientation bias.

The first step in providing adequate protection against sexual orientation or gender identity hate crimes is the swift passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. All told, hate crimes touch many lives and institutions beyond law enforcement agencies and courts. Youth may seek help in schools, the child welfare system and mental health system (Saewyc et al. 2006). Both adults and youth may seek help for bias-motivated attacks in emergency rooms, domestic violence and homeless shelters, and community organizations. Therefore, professionals should be trained to recognize when these incidents may be bias-motivated, to understand the appropriate steps for reporting them and to treat victims with the same standard of care and respect given to all people who have experienced a violent crime (Saewyc et al. 2006).

Though most people feel sympathetic toward hate crime victims, lesbians and gays are blamed for their attacks at higher rates. When a person survives a particularly severe hate crime, the incident may go on to impede their well-being, leading to higher attempts at suicide, drug or alcohol abuse and sexual risk-taking behaviors, including possible exposure to HIV/AIDs (Cannon and Dirks-Linhorst 2006; Dunbar 2006; Saewyc et al. 2006). These negative outcomes affect everyone in our society, underscoring our urgent need for education and sensitivity around sexual orientation - and gender identity-based hate crimes. Improving our legislative, prosecutorial, training and reporting efforts will send a strong message that our society will not tolerate such attacks and will unequivocally support their victims, no matter their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression.

Cannon, Kevin D. and P. Ann Dirks-Linhorst. “How Will They Understand If We Don't Teach Them? The status of Criminal Justice Education on Gay and Lesbian Issues.” Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 17, no. 2

Dunbar, Edward. “Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation in Hate Crime Victimization: Identity Politics or Identity Risk?” Violence and Victims, 21, no. 3 (2006): 323–337.

Saewyc, Elizabeth M., Carol L. Skay, Sandra L. Pettingell, Elizabeth a. Reis, Linda Bearinger, Michael Resnick, Aileen Murphy and Leigh Combs. “Hazards of Stigma: The Sexual and Physical Abuse of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Adolescents in the United States and Canada.” Child Welfare 85, no. 2 (2006): 195–21

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