According to the FBI’s December report, while the overall number of bias-motivated incidents decreased from 2010 to 2011, the number of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation actually increased to 1300, up almost 3 percent from the previous year. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) report mirrors this data, finding that the number of anti-LGBT murders in 2011 rose 11 percent from 2010. Thus, while reported hate crimes based on race, religion and ethnicity dropped, hate crimes based on sexual orientation rose, making it the second most common form of bias crime in America. In addition to the troubling hate crime statistics, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s 2011 National School Climate Survey reports over a third of LGBT students faced physical harassment and nearly 20 percent were assaulted in the last year.
Notably, the data almost certainly under-count anti-LGBT crimes. For one thing, the FBI did not yet record hate crimes against transgender people. Moreover, victims of hate crimes and targets of bullying often do not report to authorities. Beyond this, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s evaluation of the most recent FBI data, at least 79 cities with a population of over 100,000 either did not participate in the FBI’s reporting program, or affirmatively reported that they had no hate crimes.
There is something jolting about the news that anti-LGBT hate crimes are on the rise. Headlines suggest that hostility toward the LGBT community is becoming passé and attitudinal changes in younger Americans are vaunted. But this rosy picture is complicated by the data.
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