Is PFLAG Abandoning Kaitlyn?
A local Florida chapter of PFLAG, Indian River County's only gay rights group, released a statement distancing itself from the Kaitlyn Hunt case.
"We have been watching the developments in this case since it was brought to our attention. PFLAG of Vero Beach cannot enter into the controversy for the following reason. We have not been able to find where the charges brought against this unfortunate young lady are inspired by homophobia, or are in any way anti-LGBTQ," writes local president David McKinnon.
"The cry of discrimination, unless more facts come out, does not seem to apply here. Some very simple research yields cases where heterosexual kids have been arrested and prosecuted under the same law. Is that law unfair? That is something each of us must determine for ourselves, and if we feel that it is, then our State Legislators are the people to contact in order to try to have the law changed."
PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is an organization that promotes the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons, their families and friends.
Hunt, a senior at Sebastian River High School, has been charged with two felonies of "lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12 - 16 years of age" for engaging in a sexual relationship with her girlfriend, C.S., who at the time was a 14-year-old freshman. The two girls had classes together and both played on the varsity basketball team.
Hunt's parents have accused the parents of the younger girl of reporting their consensual relationship to the police because it was a lesbian relationship. The parents have denied those accusations and the state attorney has said the girls' sexual orientation has in no way affected the handling of this case.
Equality Florida, Florida's largest statewide gays rights organization has come out in full support of Hunt.
"Equality Florida is also reaching out to Florida lawmakers to address the failings of the law that criminalizes high school students and is too often used by parents who object to the race, ethnicity or gender of the schoolmate their teenager is dating," Executive Director of Equality Florida Nadine Smith wrote in a prepared statement. "This is an outrageous misapplication of the law that will destroy the lives of two high school teenagers, while doing nothing to serve justice."
At least one politician has also come to the support of Hunt, State Senator Thad Altman, a Republican representing Sebastian Fla.
"It is a tragic situation and I believe we, as a society, and our laws have let them down," he told WPTV. Altman stayed clear of the accusations of discrimination and focused on the law itself. "You would like to think this wouldn't happen in this country, two teenagers in a moment of passion do something consensual and suddenly one is facing fifteen years in prison."
The ACLU of Florida has also jumped into the middle of the controversy throwing its support behind Hunt.
"The ACLU of Florida condemns the prosecution of 18-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt. The facts as we understand them suggest that the state is prosecuting Kaitlyn for engaging in behavior that is both fairly innocuous and extremely common. Such behavior occurs every day in tens of thousands of high schools across the country, yet those other students are not facing felony convictions (and, in Florida, the lifetime consequences of a felony conviction) and potential lifelong branding as sex offenders.
"This is a life sentence for behavior by teenagers that is all too common, whether they are male or female, gay or straight. High-school relationships may be fleeting, but felony convictions are not," a statement from the organization reads. "While effective laws are certainly needed to protect Florida's children from sexual predators, one cannot seriously maintain that Kaitlyn's behavior was predatory."
If convicted Hunt would be facing 15 years in prison and would have to register as sex offender for the rest of her life. However, Florida does have a "Romeo and Juliette" law that gives judges the ability to remove some sexual offenders from the list if they meet certain requirements, which Hunt would qualify for. This would apply only if she were convicted and cannot be used a defense in her upcoming trial scheduled for July.