StopTheHateFreeKateViaChange.org

Kaitlyn Hunt, a Florida high school senior, has been expelled, and arrested, as Think Progress reports, charged with a felony for a lesbian relationship. It’s one of several recent reports that make clear that, in spite of all the progress, full equality under the law remains a goal, not a reality, for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

A few other recent (within the last week) examples: New York City Rocked By Hate Crime Murder And Spate Of Anti-Gay Violence; Gay Texan cut off from partner of 34 years who has Alzheimer’s after sister-in-law obtained guardianship; Washington Florist Countersues For Religious Right To Discriminate; Judge says lesbian mom’s partner must go. This is just a short list. It could be much longer.

Now, about Kaitlyn Hung, via Think Progress:

A Florida family says their 18-year-old daughter was charged with a felony and expelled from high school as a result of a consensual, same-sex relationship with another student.

Kaitlyn Hunt started dating a female classmate at the beginning of the school year when she was 17 and the girl she was dating was about three years younger. According to an account posted to Facebook by Kaitlyn’s mother, in February, shortly after Kaitlyn turned 18, she was arrested on felony charges at the behest of her girlfriend’s parents. The specific crime was “˜sexual battery on a person 12-16 years old.’

The parents of the girl friend also managed to get Kaitlyn expelled from Sebastian River High School.

Kaitlyn’s mom reports that the State Attorney, Brian Workman, has offered Kaitlyn a plea deal “˜of two years house arrest and one year probation.’ Kaitlyn has until … Friday (May 24) to accept the plea deal or face a trial.

More from The Advocate:

Kaitlyn Hunt was a popular student at Sebastian River High School, participating in everything from cheerleading to basketball. Hunt began dating another female student and the latter girl’s parents became enraged, according to Hunt’s parents. Kaitlyn was 17 at the time the relationship began, while her girlfriend was 15. Upon Kaitlyn’s 18th birthday, her girlfriend’s parents sent the police to the Hunt home and the teenager was arrested.

Weeks before the excitement of your high school graduation, and anticipations of what happens next in your life, Kaitlyn is now living in a nightmare. And while we have no information about what’s happening with Kaitlyn’s girlfriend, it’s a fairly safe guess her life is in turmoil as well.

And I think this is a fair question (and I’m far from alone is asking it): Had everything been the same, in terms of ages when two teenagers started dating and when one turned 18, had the 18 year old been a guy and the 15 year old a girl, would felony charges and expulsion from school been the likely responses? It’s not impossible, of course, but a comment by the younger girl’s parents, according to Steven Hunt, Kaitlyn’s father and via Think Progress is revealing:

Kaitlyn’s father suggests his daughters arrest ““ and the substantial sentence sought by the prosecutor ““ are motivated by anti-gay bias. He told ThinkProgress that the younger girl’s parents have told teachers at the high school that “˜their daughter will NOT be gay.’

In the same report:

On Friday night, 18-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt and her family went public with their story … . . The response in the 48-hours that followed, … Steven Hunt told ThinkProgress in an interview, was “˜extraordinary.’

Already, nearly 40,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Assistant State Attorney, Brian Workman, to drop the case. On Facebook, more than 13,000 people have joined a group ““ Free Kate ““ in support of the family. …

The family’s attorney, Julia Graves, has assembled a table of experienced defense lawyers that will convene next week to discuss Kaitlyn’s legal options. Meanwhile, Kaitlyn is scheduled to appear in court again on June 20. At that time, if a plea agreement is not reached, the judge could set a date for trial.

See the petition at Change.org here.

(Stop the Hate Free Kate via Change.org)