Saturday, September 09, 2006

NKU Update - Northern Kentucky Gays Sustain Record Number of Attacks (all within weeks).

These attacks, targeted against the LGBT community in Northern Kentucky are record in numbers. Never before has the commonwealth seen such blatant hate crimes related to our community. Education and exposure to diversity in non-threatening environments promotes tolerance; it is critical that occur during high-school and college, when individual minds are significantly more open to social diversity. Jordan Palmer, president of Kentucky Equality Federation spoke with Mike Volmer, co-president of Common Ground at Northern Kentucky University; the Federation offered Common Ground financial and material aid, and plan to meet next week.

COVINGTON - Police believe two apparent homophobic attacks - one in which a man was stabbed - are not related. The victim in the stabbing was attacked following an encounter in a local restaurant.

Police say that he was in the bar of La Tradicion restaurant when a man approached him and asked "if he was really a female." The victim said he was not and walked away. According to the police report, "Suspect then approached victim from rear, stabbing him twice. Suspect stated to victim, 'I got you.'" The victim, whose name is being withheld for his own protection, was treated at a local hospital and released.

Police have listed the attack as a bias crime but have few leads. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his early 20s with dark shaved hair. Investigators say he fled in what may have been a gray Chevrolet Impala with Ohio plates.

Police also are looking for vandals who spray painted hate messages on a local home. The owner, a white woman who says she is not gay, found the graffiti about 2:30 in the morning. KKK and fag were painted on the exterior of the home, along with a swastika.

NORTHERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY - After vandals scrawled anti-gay messages across Jeremy Phillippi's dormitory door last week, the Northern Kentucky University resident assistant suspected the culprits would never be caught. But he hoped university officials would use the incident to underscore their intolerance for such hate crimes.

He enlisted the help of the Kentucky Equality Federation this week to push NKU administrators to take a more aggressive stance against acts of discrimination, intimidation and hatred. Now, administrators at the Highland Heights school say they will consider Phillippi's suggestions.

The 19-year-old gay man returned to his first-floor room in Kentucky Hall Aug. 28 to find expletives and anti-homosexual messages scribbled across his door in bold black marker.

"It said, 'Fag! I hope you get AIDS,'" he said.

Phillippi followed procedures that require an electronic report be filed immediately with the resident hall director and university housing administrators. After that, he cleaned the words from his door and went to bed.

In the days following the crime - officially classified as third-degree criminal mischief - Phillippi also met with the director of university housing and the dean of students. He said he hoped the university would use the case to inform students about the school's intolerance for such discriminatory acts. But he said there was a lack of action.

They "said they just wanted to see how I was doing and let me knew the administration knew about what happened," Phillippi recalled of his conversation with the housing administrator.
"I asked if a statement had been prepared about it, and (they) said yes, a statement had been written up to be released, which hasn't happened. And he kept using the word 'vandalism' which I think downplays the incident. I was pretty upset, so I just left. ... I really felt victimized again pretty much."

Phillippi said 10 days after the incident he remains dissatisfied with the university's response, so he met with members of the campus Gay-Straight Alliance. They directed him to contact the Northern Kentucky chapter of the Kentucky Equality Federation for help.

The volunteer organization works for gay, lesbian and transgender rights, and was recently instrumental in helping students at Boone County High School gain approval to form an in-school Gay-Straight Alliance.

Thursday, Phillippi filed a complaint with the federation, seeking help in getting further action from university officials. "We would definitely like for the administration to take a more hands-on approach with this," said Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer. "I don't think realistically they'll ever find out who did it, but (administrators) could issue a statement in the school newspaper, for instance ... that you don't target people like this. This isn't acceptable behavior."

University officials said they have kept silent about the incident because they believed that was Phillippi's wish. But school spokesman Chris Cole said administrators are open to Phillippi's ideas about using the incident to teach students, administrators and teachers that all types of discrimination and hatred are unacceptable.

"The strong conclusion that the housing director and the (campus police) officer came to was that the R.A. did not want to call attention to himself and the investigation ... so we attempted to retain his privacy," Cole said.

"But, we are always looking for teachable moments, and any time an incident like this happens, it's certainly a teachable moment. ... So, anything he wants to do, I'm sure the housing director would be glad to work with him on it."

Cole said school officials understand that difficult discussions need to take place about things "in a way that's not threatening or destructive." Cole alluded to an incident in April when a professor was charged with helping her students tear down an anti-abortion display on the Highland Heights campus. Charges against the teacher, Sally Jacobsen, were dismissed after she successfully completed a mediation program, but the controversy raged for months following the high-profile incident.

Phillippi also referred to that incident as added reason for university officials to take swift and public action to condemn acts of destruction, discrimination and hatred. He said he plans to educate residents in his dorm about issues relevant to the case. His hope is that the university will lend its muscle to his message before then. "I just think that if something relatively small like this gets by, then what are they going to do with something else?" Phillippi said.

"That's why I wanted to take an educational twist with what happened. ... So people learn from it."


Post a Comment

We value your feedback, ideas, and comments!

If possible, please leave a link to your website (Facebook, MySpace, or other) by selecting "Other" when leaving your comment.