Itís Still Not O.K. To Be LGBT In High School ...by Bill Knell
This is not an article about how I or anyone else feels about the LGBT community. We all have differing views from total acceptance to total rejection and everything in between. This is a commentary on individual rights and how schools often deny them for any reason they like. Apart from all the reported violence and hate levied against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people in high schools throughout the world, there are laws that make it a crime to date if you are students separated by the magical age barrier of eighteen created by society. No matter how you feel about LGBT teens, you should be very concerned about the persecution and pending prosecution of Kaitlyn Hunt.
Kaitlyn is a an eighteen year old high school senior from Florida. According to her parents she began a friendship with a fourteen year old girl at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year. This happened when Kaitlyn was seventeen. The girls saw each other in school each day and their friendship eventually became something more. After Kaitlyn turned eighteen during the school year the girls began dating. Kaitlynís parents did not object to their relationship and according to them the other girlís parents never contacted them regarding the matter.
Both girls were on the Sebastian River High School Girlís Basketball team. Kaitlynís parents report that after the coach discovered they were in a same sex relationship she kicked both girls off the team and reported the matter to the younger girlís parents. They, in turn, waited until Kaitlyn turned eighteen in February 2013 and than contacted the local police. Using a phone tap arranged with the assistance of the now fifteen year oldís parents the authorities recorded calls between their daughter and Kaitlyn. During the call the two girls discussed intimate details about their relationship which the police felt gave them enough evidence to arrest Kaitlyn.
According to news reports about the affair the arrest complaint states that Kaitlyn Hunt is charged with Ďtwo counts of felony lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12-16í. This is a second-degree felony charge that will likely cause Kaitlyn to have to register as a sex offender if she is convicted. Even though the fifteen year old has already told her parents and the police that their relationship is consensual and at no time was she forced or coerced into anything she did with Hunt, the Florida State Attorney has stated that the charges will not be dropped and prosecution will proceed. If found guilty the eighteen year old girl could spend up to fifteen years in prison.
A plea agreement which would allow Hunt to plead guilty to a lesser charge of child abuse and serve two years of house arrest followed by a year of probation has been offered, but that will likely require Kaitlyn to register as a sex offender and her father says she will not accept it as of this writing. Being labeled a sex offender will stick to her the rest of her life and greatly limit her potential. Kaitlynís parents say she had planned to attend Valencia College after graduation and study nursing before her arrest. She has already been expelled from Sebastian River High School and is finishing her senior year at an alternative school.
As a parent I would have counseled my daughter to date someone her own age, but there is the rub. When I was in high school in Florida during the 1970s it was not uncommon for guys to date girls a year, two or even three younger than they were. Thatís because my school covered grades nine to twelve and that meant students from fourteen to eighteen years of age mixed daily. I dated a fifteen year old girl when I was sixteen and a sixteen year old girl when I was seventeen. Fortunately for me those relationships ended before I was eighteen when I dated a girl my own age, otherwise I might still be breaking rocks or making license plates in some Florida prison.
Everyone understands that justice is blind. If an eighteen year old boy was dating a fourteen year old girl and they were having sex all hell would probably break loose if her folks found out. I doubt there would not be a lot of outrage if he was charged with a crime (especially if the sex was forced, coerced or not consensual). Sadly, that same eighteen year old boy would be eligible to be charged with a crime even if his girl friend was seventeen and both parties agreed to have sex (although Florida has a special law which protects minors up to sixteen allowing charges to be more easily filed in those cases).
The problem I have with the case involving Kaitlyn Hunt is that no one was raped or forced to do anything. If we argue that a fourteen year old girl is too young to decide if she wants to be intimate with someone older why not limit her in other ways. Even though a federal judge recently decided that a girl that age has the right to purchase a morning after pill and other judges and even school boards have allowed her to receive condoms without her parentís permission, why not get require permission slips from parents which state what she can have for lunch (given the obesity risk) or how much time she is allowed to stay outside in the Florida sun (given the cancer risk)? We have already become a Nanny State where government officials control most everything in our lives, so why not just finish the job by requiring licenses to date, give birth or eat more than the alloted calories each day for all ages?
If the younger girlís parents had a problem with their daughter seeing Kaitlyn Hunt than why didnít they just contact her folks and tell them the relationship was unacceptable to them? The Hunts sound like caring and responsible parents who would have likely listened and encouraged their daughter to avoid intimacy with the younger girl. The other parents did not do that because they probably found it more expedient to use Nanny State officials and Puritanical laws to teach their daughter, her lover and society a lesson in their own morality. This case is really about one set of parents being against their daughterís sexual preference and a society still unwilling to accept or face the fact that kids will meet in high school while they are minors, get into a relationship, have sex and continue seeing each other after one of them passes the artificially and legally created age gateway of eighteen.
I suppose that it would be too much to hope for that some brave politician might take a moment from deciding what size drink cup we can buy to consider addressing this complicated issue. The laws in place obviously do not work as evidenced by the fact that each year hundreds of women eighteen years of age and under report rapes that occur in junior high schools, high schools, colleges and military barracks only to find that their older rapists are not arrested or prosecuted for various reasons. That is why I know that the Kaitlyn Hunt case is nothing more than yet another example of people abusing outdated laws to take what they believe is the moral high ground against gay, lesbian and bisexual teens. No matter where you stand on sexual preferences, this case should scare the heck out of you and is just another example of government abuse of power.