Homophobic Graffiti Shows Need For Countywide Educational Efforts, Advocacy Group Says

posted: January 7th, 2011 04:42 pm | 3Comments

Graffiti vandalism at Corona del Mar High School that used anti-gay slurs shows the need for ongoing diversity awareness efforts in high schools and colleges throughout Orange County, according to the executive director of The Center Orange County, a gay and lesbian advocacy group based in Santa Ana.

A Corona del Mar resident brought the incident to the attention of the executive director of The Center OC, which today released a statement reacting to the vandalism incident.

“The recent homophobic graffiti incident that occurred at Corona del Mar High School is just the latest in which anti-gay slurs become the words of choice for teens seeking to mock or ridicule others,” wrote Ginger Hahn. “Too often these types of words are used to denigrate anyone seen as weak or vulnerable and they only serve to further isolate, intimidate and marginalize those perceived to be gay or lesbian. The incident also illustrates the need for ongoing educational efforts at promoting understanding of others and zero tolerance by school personnel for hate acts and hate language. They create an atmosphere where learning is impossible, and an atmosphere that promotes this type of vandalism, violence and even suicide.”

Corona del Mar High School principals and PTA presidents have stated they were horrified that what appears to be a prank stemming from long-standing school rivalries turned to vandalism that used hate language. Police reports state the damage was $4,200. Read our earlier story here.

In an email, Hahn said the Center does not view the incident as an indictment of Corona del Mar High School in spite of headlines two years ago including an ACLU lawsuit on behalf of a student and controversy over the staging of the musical “Rent.”

“They do appear to be the victim of vandalism,” she said.

In her statement, Hahn said that the term “bullying” does not adequately describe what many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth experience, and many perpetrators, victims and school personnel have become desensitized to the term.

“In addition to the victimization youth experience by their peers, there is a systemic an often familial denial of the abuse that downplays the daily threats, overt violence, and fear that adolescents who identify as LGBT live with daily.”

Police have not classified the graffiti incident as a hate crime. PTA members described the language as “hate language,” however.


3 Responses to “Homophobic Graffiti Shows Need For Countywide Educational Efforts, Advocacy Group Says”

Comments

Jamie

January 7th, 2011

Thank you to CDMToday for printing this information. Ginger Hahn writes a lot better than I do. As has been stated before these continuing incidents indicate the message is not getting across. We can say that you can't reach everyone, but I say, why not? I say we had better reach these kids before words of hate turn into acts of hate. The GLBT community in OC and Newport Beach is a lot larger than many people realize and these continued incidents both on and off the school campus (referencing similar anti-gay graffiti on a mural last summer in CDM) are not going to be tolerated. We are not going away and we are not going to live in fear. I think that the police are incorrect in not calling this a hate crime. I guess they are saying that because it could possibly be attributed to school rivalry, rather than an attack on GLBT students specifically. When you have a criminal act (vandalism) and slurs directed at a group of people (hate) that qualifies as a hate crime. A non-criminal act directed at a person or group is classified as a hate "incident." Clearly that does not apply here as it is a crime to vandalize property. In fact I think $4,200 qualifies as a felony, I could be wrong. Hate speech on the other hand is protected under the first amendment. That means people can state opinion of hate, print or distribute materials, just as I can write my commentary. It does not mean you can yell slurs at an individual or group names with the intent to intimidate, that is a hate incident, or if it involves "terrorist threats" it becomes a hate crime again. Clearly this is not protected hate speech, since there is a crime involved. Personally I think the police and city don't want hate crime statistics on their books, it's bad for business. So where do we go from here? So far it's been kind of a one sided conversation. Let's hear from the schools and the city and the police.

cynthia

January 8th, 2011

Dear Amy, Ginger & Jamie, Thank you for every ounce of input and upset because as long as we're talking about this isssue of hate & intolerance, we're addressing it on some level. Even as a first step towards civil tolerance, I'll support and encourage the topic. It's not okay or acceptable to allow our kids to move forth with harm or evil intent towards one another for any reason whatsoever. Please keep this subject pushed forward so people can start to recognize the reality of whats really going on around them as well as their participation in the subject.

Nick

January 8th, 2011

Sounds a lot like a hate crime to me...


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