By now, most have heard the news that Kaitlyn Hunt, an 18-year-old high school senior from Indian River County, Florida, is facing felony charges for engaging in a consensual sexual relationship with another girl at her school. If not, here is a summary: Kaitlyn met her 15-year-old girl friend at the beginning of the school year, when she was still 17. They began dating in September, shortly after she turned 18, and was arrested a few months later and charged with two counts of sexual battery on a person 12-16 years old, according to Gawker.com. She was also kicked off the school basketball team in order to avoid the “drama” associated with her ordeal, and then expelled from school. She is now being offered a plea deal that will allow her to avoid a trial if she admits to the felony, and accepts two years under house arrest and registration as sex offender. Her decision is due this Friday.
Florida’s age of consent is 18, but exemptions exist for people who are close in age. For example, someone who is 23 or younger can engage in sexual activity with a minor who is 16 or older. Unfortunately for Ms. Hunt, this exemption does not apply since her partner was younger than 16. Yet this is probably not the reason she is being punished. Why would the police ever know about a consensual relationship between two high school students? Rather, she was only arrested after her girlfriend’s mother complained to the police (they never even attempted to contact her parents first). Most likely, she is being punished for “corrupting” a minor and “teaching” her to be a lesbian, not for breaking the spirit of the law. After all, if a 23-year-old man can legally have sex with a 16-year-old girl (with an age difference of 7 years), why shouldn’t an 18-year-old be able to have sex with a 14-year-old (with an age difference of only 4 years)? Furthermore, her basketball coach said that it is common at her school for 18-year-old boys to date freshmen girls. Why aren’t any of them being prosecuted?
Ms. Hunt’s mother believes the charges stem from homophobia by the girlfriend’s parents. She was quoted by Gawker.com saying:
“They are out to destroy my daughter, because they feel like she ‘made’ their daughter gay. They see being gay as wrong and they blame my daughter. Of course, I see it 100% differently. I don’t see or label these girls as gay. They are teenagers in high school experimenting with their sexuality – with mutual consent. And even if their daughter is gay, who cares? She is still their daughter.”
There is some evidence to support this claim. The girlfriend’s parents’ demanded that the school district expel her, but refused. A judge, likewise, refused to grant their request. It was only after they appealed to the school board that she was finally expelled.
There is a Change.org petition to stop the prosecution of Ms. Hunt. Click here for details.
The global hacker collective, Anonymous, is also rallying behind Ms. Hunt, according to Mother Jones. On Saturday, they launched the twitter hashtag #OPJustice4Kaitlyn, and a press release that begins: "Greetings, Bigots."
"The truth is, Kaitlyn Hunt is a bright young girl who was involved in a consensual, same-sex relationship while both she and her partner were minors," reads the release. "She has a big future ahead of her and there are people, thousands of people in fact, that have no intention of allowing you to ruin it with your rotten selective enforcement."