From: John Aravosis Subject: They carved "fag" on his abdomen.... Date: Sun, 14 Feb 1999 10:15:13 -0500 This is the story of a nasty anti-gay hate crime that occurred Friday near San Francisco. As you may recall, Jamie Nabozny won $1m from his Wisconsin school district recently because they failed to protect him from such repeated anti-gay incidents. I hope someone tells Adam's and his family about Jamie's story. (I've also attached a recent article on anti-gay hate in schools). JOHN Specter of hate in 2 assaults on youth By Emily Gurnon OF THE EXAMINER STAFF Sunday, February 14, 1999 ©1999 San Francisco Examiner URL: gay.dtl Teen hospitalized; anti-gay epithet carved into his body with pen One minute, 17-year-old Adam Colton was at home, getting ready to drive to class at San Marin High School in Novato. The next thing the openly gay high school senior knew, he was lying in a hospital bed six hours later -- badly bruised and cut on his face, chest, abdomen and back. On his forearm and abdomen, someone had carved into his flesh with a pen: "Fag." Friday's attack was the second time this school year that Colton has been beaten in an apparent hate crime. Police said the first attack occurred on Sept. 15, just a week after Colton, who had transferred from Marin Academy, had come out of the closet at school and formed a student group called Gay-Straight Alliance. The trauma of the second attack apparently wiped out Colton's memory of the period immediately preceding it. "When I woke up in the hospital, the first thing I thought was that I'd had a diabetic emergency or was in a car accident," Colton said Saturday as he recovered at his Novato home. "Yesterday as a whole was pretty cloudy for me." Though he doesn't remember driving to school, Colton said police found his locked car in the school parking lot, "which makes it a strong possibility that I was beaten up on campus," he said. Possibly hate-motivated School Principal Rudy Tassano was out of town and could not be reached for comment Saturday. Novato police Sgt. Jim Laveroni would say only that Colton had been assaulted and that it was possibly hate-motivated. But Colton's parents said they are convinced it was a hate crime and are asking members of the community to come forward to help identify the attacker or attackers. "There must be a witness. This happened in the middle of the day," said Jerry Colton, Adam's father. "I just urge parents, the community and the student body at large to step forward. If we don't, and if we allow these types of situations to take place, it will only cause further injury." Adam Colton said the word from other students was that he had wandered into a classroom after the attack, saying something about having been followed. Then he passed out. But the trouble started long before Friday. The day of the first attack, Colton's car was vandalized in the school's parking lot. Someone had taken several napkins, spread them on the hood of his car, and written a message in ketchup: "You bent-ass m----- f-----, get the f--- away," Colton said. Early that evening, he was grocery shopping for his parents. A group of three high school teens approached him, taunting him with anti-gay epithets. He went inside and did his shopping. When he came back out, the teens jumped him. The next week, he said, his car got keyed. The week after that, there was another ketchup message on his car. That weekend, someone wrote an epithet in lighter fluid on his family's driveway and tried to ignite it. Then there were the looks and the taunts at school, the kids who would pass him in the hall and make a hateful comment to their friends -- loud enough for Colton to hear -- about gays. It became too much for him. "I love going to school, but I was really starting to hate it," Colton said. The pressure was exhausting. Two weeks ago, he entered an independent study program -- attending San Marin only for his two favorite classes: creative writing and drama. Did he get any support? Colton said he wished he had gotten more support from Tassano after the first attack. "I feel like this may not have happened a second time if he had come to the plate and really put his foot down and said, "This will not happen again.'" Colton's father agrees that the school has failed to create a safe atmosphere for his son. He wants school officials to make teaching the value of diversity a priority. "Our son has had to reduce his class load at that school because it is difficult for him to walk down the hallway without some individual or some group of individuals saying something derogatory to him," Jerry Colton said. "It is certainly not a place where someone with even the most basic needs feels safe." In the first incident, police said Colton was attacked by three 17-year-old males in the parking lot of Lucky supermarket in downtown Novato -- the same place where, in 1995, 25-year-old Eddy Wu was stabbed several times by a man who allegedly said, "I wanted to kill me a Chinaman." Before attacking Colton, the three teens made several "disparaging remarks" to him, Sgt. Laveroni said. Colton was not able to identify his attackers from the first incident, and they were never caught. This time around, he's hoping he recovers some memory of the incident. In the meantime, school officials are looking into who was absent from class at the time he was beaten, Colton said. Friday's assault occurred almost a year after three San Marin students were suspended and one charged with disturbing the peace after a racial incident at a school basketball game. In that case, a group of students were allegedly yelling a racial epithet at some black players from Tamalpais High. The mood at the school after the attack on Colton was one of sadness, said sophomore Matt McLaughlin. "In the afternoon, the staff came around and went into all the classrooms," McLaughlin said. One counselor told students that Colton had been beaten again and was in the hospital. "Pray for him," McLaughlin remembered the counselor saying. "Now that this has happened, I'm not sure that I'll be going back to San Marin next Tuesday when school resumes," Colton said. " I don't feel comfortable on campus." When he decided to come out of the closet at San Marin, Colton said, several people asked him why he would take that chance at a place that had a reputation for intolerance. "I didn't want to keep it inside anymore," Colton said. ©1999 San Francisco Examiner ------------------ SACRAMENTO BEE, September 10, 1998 P. O. Box 15779,Sacramento,CA,95813 (Fax 916-321-1109 ) (E-MAIL: ) ( ) Schools losing tolerance for anti-gay harassment By Robert D. Dávila Bee Staff Writer Two trends in society are awakening school officials nationwide to anti-gay harassment on campus and offering hope to students who feel unsafe in the classroom, according to youth advocates, teachers and civil rights lawyers. One change is at work in the law. In 1996, Jamie Nabozny of Ashland, Wis., won almost $1 million after a federal jury found school officials liable for not protecting him from anti-gay abuse ranging from epithets to brutal assaults. The landmark case set a constitutional precedent requiring schools to treat sexual-orientation harassment -- whether victims are gay or straight -- the same as other illegal discrimination. Since then, cases alleging anti-gay harassment have been brought against schools in California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and Washington. A suit filed recently in Sacramento alleges Folsom officials ignored complaints from a middle school student for two years. New federal education rules also are forcing administrators to take the issue seriously. "There's no stopping parents once they feel empowered to protect their children," said attorney David S. Buckel of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc., which represented Nabozny. Another trend is among youth. Encouraged by positive mainstream portrayals of gays, many are openly acknowledging their homosexual orientation at an earlier age than previous generations. As more teenagers come out, they are less willing to suffer in silence. Young people have formed Gay-Straight Alliances to promote campus tolerance and safety at more than 400 high schools nationwide. The first GSA in Sacramento met last spring at Sacramento High School but folded after the faculty adviser left. The only other GSA in the region began meeting last month at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills. "It's their generation that's going to make the real changes," said Eric Heins of the gay and lesbian caucus in the California Teachers Association. "We can make it safer for adults today, but it's their generation and maybe the generation after them that will make it better for all gays and lesbians." They're winning support from straight people who say anti-gay abuse is a safety issue for all students because many -- regardless of sexual orientation -- are picked on just because they don't belong to common cliques. The local chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network is hosting a public forum on age-sensitive ways to discuss sexual orientation in schools at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Trinity Cathedral, 2620 Capitol Ave. Harassment of children who are gay or presumed gay is hard to quantify, because no school districts or civil rights groups collect data. But research indicates the attitudes behind it are very real. A 1993 study by the American Association of University Women found the worst type of sexual harassment for students is "being called gay." It said 86 percent of students would rather be targeted any other way -- including getting hit -- than called gay. Last month, a study of almost 500 college students by psychologist Karen Franklin of Washington state found 10 percent admitted violence or threats against men or women perceived as gay. Another 24 percent admitted to anti-gay name-calling. Examples of intolerance are not hard to find. At Oak Ridge High School, a group of football players hanging out before practice shouted taunts at skittish teenagers walking to the first GSA meeting Aug. 27. Even so, about 45 gay and straight students filled the portable classroom near the gym, more than organizers expected. Chatting and laughing with friends, many nervously eyed the door each time a visitor arrived. Some participants said they were harassed at school and rejected at home because they are gay or might be gay. Others reported negative comments about the GSA from classmates and teachers. A straight boy said he almost got into a fight at lunch standing up for a gay friend. "I don't think I have ever attended a day at this high school without hearing an anti-homosexual slur," said club founder Greg Vander Pol, a senior. Oak Ridge Principal Jim Fraysier acknowledged the GSA might stir controversy but said he supports the club's goal of promoting tolerance. Asked if anti-gay harassment was a problem, he said, "It's not so pervasive that it comes to my attention, but it's more pervasive than we think." Nationwide, efforts are under way to change youth attitudes that foster anti-gay abuse. In 1993, Massachusetts became the first state to ban sexual-orientation bias in schools and set up a statewide program to eradicate it. Connecticut and Wisconsin have similar education code provisions. But laws offer little protection for students who complain if teachers and principals don't take anti-gay slurs as seriously as racial slurs, said national GLSEN spokeswoman Kate Frankfurt. While California school districts forbid sexual harassment generally, several Sacramento-area teachers said more training on sexual orientation is needed. The issue of anti-gay harassment is relatively new for schools, where homosexuality is a very sensitive subject for discussion. "This is something that only in the last 10 years has become part of the conversation," said Floyd Andrus, chief for discrimination complaints in Folsom Cordova Unified School District. "We're just getting there in our society." Administrators' hands increasingly are being forced by the law. A key federal statute is the Title IX education provision of 1972, which forbids discrimination in schools receiving federal money. Last year, the U.S. Department of Education for the first time spelled out that Title IX covers "gay or lesbian students." In the first complaint filed under the new text, officials in Fayetteville, Ark., agreed in June to provide more protection for students from anti-gay harassment. Meanwhile, more young people are going to court. Last month, officials of a Pacifica school district in San Mateo County settled a suit filed by a 12-year-old boy with an agreement to provide staff training and crack down on anti-gay harassment. In Louisville, Ky., a federal jury ordered administrators last Friday to pay $220,000 to a 17-year-old girl for failing to stop abuse that included anti-gay slurs. The case was significant because it was the first that required the victim to prove officials acted with "deliberate indifference," a tough standard for Title IX suits set by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. In July, a Folsom woman filed a federal suit alleging principals and teachers at Folsom Middle School refused to protect her son from abuse over two years. The complaint says classmates called the youth anti-gay names, assaulted him, vandalized his bike and threw urine-soaked toilet paper at him. One bully punched him in the head, aggravating a ruptured eardrum, the suit says. When the boy's mother complained to school officials, "They would say that at this age group, kids just call each other names, or that it's normal for this age group to harass kids," she said. "But it's not normal. It's giving them a license to say hurtful things." Her son, a 14-year-old freshman who is studying at home this fall, thinks he was targeted because he is a "nerd." The quiet teenager is an honor student who excels at math and computers and recently began working for a software firm. "I could never concentrate in class," he said. "Kids would start calling me 'gay,' and the teacher wouldn't do anything about it. I'd start thinking, 'OK, is someone going to come beat me up now?' "