“On Friday, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force released a statement saying, in part, ‘Our hearts go out to Lawrence’s family — and to all young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids who are — right now, right this minute — being bullied and beaten in school while adults look the other way.’ Another group, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) called for passage of the Matthew Shepard Act, which would dramatically increase the power of the federal government to prosecute hate crimes.
“But while King’s short life and violent death are surpassingly sad, it’s not clear that officials at E.O. Green Junior High, his school, ‘looked the other way.’ What’s more, the task force is exaggerating the frequency of assaults on gay kids, the vast majority of whom make it through school safe and happy.
“GLSEN itself has published a great deal of survey data showing that most gay kids aren’t suffering the way King did. Fully 78% of gay and transgender kids say they feel safe at school, according to a 2005 GLSEN report. According to another GLSEN survey released the same year, only 18% of gay and transgender students said they had ever been assaulted because of their sexual orientation (only 12% — probably many of the same kids — said they had been assaulted because of the way they express their gender). And of those who had been harassed or assaulted, more than one-fifth — 22% — said the incident wasn’t serious enough to report. When they did report the incidents, the response from school staffs was positive about 70% of the time. That’s not enough — it should be 100% — but it belies the dire picture painted by gay groups in the wake of King’s killing.[snip]
“We may never know the real motivations for King’s murder. McInerney, the alleged killer, is being charged as an adult and, if convicted, will likely spend the rest of his childhood, and most of his adulthood, behind bars. He deserves harsh judgment. But his victim’s heartbreaking life and death should be occasions for mourning, not legislation.” – John Cloud, arguing in TIME that most LGBT youth are actually “thriving and happy most of the time.” Cloud, who describes himself as a gay libertarian, opposes hate crimes legislation as “criminalizing people’s thoughts.”