An important feature article by William Butte in today’s Florida Sun-Sentinel calls out the mainstream media on under-reporting of anti-gay hate crimes as heinous as that of the Matthew Shepard case. Recall the Larry King story as first reported – it took over a week before stories revealed that the 14 year old suffered from frequent taunts of classmates with no intervention from the school. Standard schoolyard bullying? Try toxic atmosphere leading to depression, suicide, or as in the case of King a classmate who feels so superior he can shoot a queer in the back of the head.
Students at several school shootings — including Columbine, for example — admitted they’d taunted their killer classmates as gay, though this was rarely mentioned by mainstream media.
If the media paid more attention to King’s murder and the homophobia behavior that permeates our public schools, perhaps there’d be a public outcry here in the Sunshine State against the Legislature’s removal from the proposed Safe School bill language that addresses harassment of GLBT students.
Off-campus, gay-related hate crimes continue to pollute our society, yet go almost unseen by national media. One year ago in Polk County, 25-year-old Ryan Skipper was abducted and stabbed 20 times before he died; 19-year-old Steen Keith Fenrich of New York was murdered by his stepfather, who wrote an anti-gay, racist slur on his skull; and 3-year-old Ronnie Paris of Tampa died of child abuse at the hands of a father who feared his baby might become gay.
This under-reporting negatively affects the LGBTQ community in that the wider straight community, even those friendly to gay rights, but who don’t monitor gay media sources, don’t see how widespread anti-gay crime still is. And that makes the remarks of such people as Sally Kern even more damning.