It’s unfortunate the law allows law enforcement officials to indulge a couple of malicious, anti-gay parents.

I want to comment on the story of Kaitlyn Hunt.  She was, up until recently, a senior at a high school in Sebastian, FL.  She was dating another girl at the high school, a freshman.  The two girls are about 3.5 years apart, with Kaitlyn being 18 and her younger girlfriend having just turned 15.  When the younger girl’s parents discovered the relationship in September, shortly after Kaitlyn’s 18th birthday, they did not inform Kaitlyn’s parents and talk about their displeasure, but they instead secretly recorded a phone conversation between the two girls and took it to the police.

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A judge ruled twice that Kaitlyn, who is an honor student, was permitted to stay in school, but the school board overruled the judge and elected to expel her.

According to Kaitlyn’s mother, the parents of the younger girl blame Kaitlyn for turning their daughter gay.  In a region of Florida where Mitt Romney brought in 60% of the vote, this is unsurprising.

The police say this has nothing to do with Kaitlyn’s sexual orientation:

Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar said the relationship began when the victim was 14 and progressed to sexual acts after Hunt was 18, of which he said she has confessed.

Loar said the age of consent is 16 in Florida, and they have investigated and prosecuted many other similar incidents, including same-sex relationships.

“That has nothing to do with it,” Loar said at a news conference earlier this week. “If this was an 18-year-old male and that was a 14-year-old girl, it would have been prosecuted the same way.”

State attorney Bruce Colton said the arrest has nothing to do with Hunt’s sexual preference. He said the law is designed to protect younger children from people who are older and can be more aggressive in forming a relationship.

If the law is designed to protect children from older people who could coerce them into a relationship, then to prosecute here is clearly not in the spirit of the law as this is clearly not a child-predator relationship.  These were two student in a high school relationship that was entirely consensual.  Didn’t we all go to high school?  Didn’t we all see seniors dating freshmen?  How many of them faced felony charges that could mean 15 years in prison and being forced to register as a sex offender for it?

The ACLU is also calling bullshit:

“This is a life sentence for behavior by teenagers that is all too common, whether they are male or female, gay or straight,” the statement said. “High-school relationships may be fleeting, but felony convictions are not.”

It is for situations like this that Romeo-Juliet laws (in this case, Juliet-Juliet laws) were established in the first place.  There is even such a law in place in Florida that could save Kaitlyn from having to register as a sex offender since the two were less than four years apart in age.

The internet activist group Anonymous has also gotten involved:

In the letter released by Anonymous, the group claims the Indian River County State Attorney’s Office has “lost perspective” and vows to put together a petition with 200,000 signatures on it calling for the resignation of the officials involved.

“The truth is, Kaitlyn Hunt is a bright young girl who was involved in a consensual, same-sex relationship while both she and her partner were minors. She has a big future ahead of her and there are people, thousands of people in fact, that have no intention of allowing you to ruin it with your rotten selective enforcement.”

Even the sheriff admitted he would not have arrested Kaitlyn had the parents of the 15 year old not filed a complaint.  However, the state attorney had this to say:

Hunt has until Friday to accept a plea deal offered by prosecutors that would allow her to avoid registering as a sex offender if she pleads guilty to lesser charges of child abuse. State Attorney Bruce Colton said he would recommend two years of house arrest followed by one year probation if she takes the deal.

If she is found guilty, it’s also possible that Hunt could apply to not have to register as a sex offender under a “Romeo and Juliet” law because the girls were no more than four years apart in age, Colton said.

Colton said the victim’s family is not pushing for prison but wants Kaitlyn Hunt to be held responsible in some way. However, the Hunt family said they would accept a plea deal only if the charges are dropped to a misdemeanor.

The younger girl’s parents want her held responsible in some way…and that way is apparently the full destruction of Kaitlyn’s future.  Being expelled from school after three years of being an honor student apparently wasn’t enough.  “Held responsible” sure makes the efforts to crush a young woman’s life sound a lot less overt and malicious though.

Look, I’m glad anti-child predator laws exist.  But anybody who thinks that’s what’s going on here is too stupid to fart.  And anybody who thinks that similar relationships, high school seniors dating freshmen, are either uncommon or regularly prosecuted is equally off base.  What’s more, in the rare cases where students in those relationships have been prosecuted, as I understand it there is always a plea bargain down to a misdemeanor…you know, so a high school relationship doesn’t wind up destroying an adult life.  This situation reeks of increased penalty and selective prosecution.  What’s more, if you think that Kaitlyn deserves to be shackled with the same chains as child predators (unless those child predators wear a frock, then they get shielded from prosecution and likely never see a day in court), then you clearly have a perverted sense of justice, if you even have a sense of justice at all.

The whole point here is to teach gay people a lesson, which is far more hideous than two high school students being physical with one another.

A felony conviction for this would ruin Kaitlyn’s life.  The parents of the younger girl do not seem to care.  Why should they?  They were the one’s who sought out this result.  Religion, primarily Christianity, has given society in this country overwhelming and irrational hatred of gay people, regardless of whether or not they’re honor students with no history of bad behavior (like Kaitlyn).  If you were to ask what could convince two adults to so loathe homosexuality that they were willing to destroy a promising young girl’s life over it, I’ll bet I could tell you the answer.  I’ll bet I could tell you precisely what could make two adults so vindictive.

Even though there has been no mention in the press of what religion the younger girl’s parents hold, I’d happily bet every dollar and every possession I have that it’s Christianity – and that their disdain for gay people is plucked straight from scripture.

Think of what a better world it would be if, in the place of passages condemning homosexuals, there were instead passages extolling the virtue of compassion.  How different Christians might be if that were the case.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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