Hate Crimes Against Queer and Trans Students Quadrupled in States With Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws

According to a new report, anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in K-12 schools have quadrupled in U.S. states that have laws restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ students.

A Washington Post analysis of FBI data on anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes taking place in K-12 schools and on college campuses, published on March 12 found that anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes “serious enough to be reported to local police” more than doubled across the country in recent years. The Post found that while an average of 108 anti-LGBTQ+ school hate crimes were reported between 2015 and 2019, that average rose to 232 between 2021 and 2022. According to FBI data, the most common hate crimes reported at schools were intimidation, simple assault (assault where no weapon was used), and vandalism.

However, this rise in school hate crimes was more pronounced in the 28 states that have enacted policies restricting LGBTQ+ students’ self-expression and/or limiting how teachers can talk about gender and sexuality in school. In these states, reported anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes on K-12 and college campuses more than tripled from an average of 28 per year between 2015 and 2019 to an average of 90 between 2021 and 2022.

As the Post points out, this increase is even more staggering when you remove college campuses and look at the anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes in K-12 schools only. In states that have enacted restrictive laws, there were more than four times the number of anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes across elementary, middle, and high schools, per year, from 2021 to 2022, compared with the years 2015 to 2019.

Although it’s only March, the American Civil Liberties Union is currently tracking a whopping 478 anti-LGBTQ+ bills across the U.S. this year, with 190 of those bills targeting student and educator rights.

Meanwhile, nonprofits that work with LGBTQ+ youth have reported an increase in crisis calls. According to the Post, The Trevor Project received over 500,000 crisis contacts during the fiscal year ending in July 2023 compared to the 230,000 the group received the previous year, while the Rainbow Youth Project received over 1,400 calls to its mental health crisis hotline per month in 2023 compared to 1,000 per month in 2022. According to the Rainbow Youth Project, calls from Oklahoma to the group’s hotline more than tripled after details about Nex Benedict, the trans Oklahoma teen of Choctaw ancestry who died the day after three older girls reportedly beat them in a school bathroom, became national news.

“Young people will say, ‘My government hates me,’ ‘My school hates me,’ ‘They don’t want me to exist,’” the Rainbow Youth Project’s founder and executive director, Lance Preston, told the Post. “That … is absolutely unacceptable. That is shocking.”

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