Disturbing news but not a new trend from the research of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). According to the FBI’s 2009 Hate Crimes Statistics report, gays and lesbians remain the most victimized minority in violent hate crimes (attacks on persons instead of property). Though the numbers are not broken down as such in the FBI’s report, SPLC does an excellent job of breaking down the numbers here.
Though there was a drop in overall bias crimes from 2008 to 2009, the study, as broken down by SPLC shows that from 1995-2008, gays and lesbians are anywhere from 2.4 to 13.8% more likely than other minorities to be a victim of a violent hate crime. These numbers are based on studies done by the FBI and combine not only the numbers of hate crime incidents, but our representation in society – the lesbian and gay population.
One can make all sorts of assumptions about why this is. Everything from backlash for our heightened visibility in the past years to an increase in specifically-religious condemnation of gays, lesbians and our families. There is probably blame to be spread throughout, however one thing is for certain – nothing will change if we don’t step up the education and enlightenment around our issues.
Minds are changing – families are being informed and ignorance around who we are is being thwarted everyday. These statistics are important, but we cannot let them frighten us into staying closeted. These things are happening to our kids, and they will continue to happen if we don’t continue to teach our friends, families and allies the truth about who we are – and who we love. Visibility is the key to acceptance, so keep walking tall, speak out against these crimes and continue to live your life openly and honestly – we will change this. We have to.