Monday, March 4, 2013

Hate Crimes on Today's Agenda

Let's take a brief trip down memory lane. Remember this?

Well, I'm doing it again today. This session, it's SB 139. And it's still badly needed.

In fact, it's likely needed now more than ever before. Hate crimes against LGBTQ people are at the highest level recorded in the last 14 years. This was confirmed in the most recent FBI hate crimes report.

Yet even that doesn't tell the whole story. The agency is just starting to collect data on anti-transgender hate crimes (so they're not included in last December's report). And far too many victims are still too afraid to come forward.

Don't believe me? Believe this.

“Despite issues of underreporting from law enforcement agencies, some additional data suggest that hate crimes against transgender people are a significant problem. Community organizations and other interested groups have been tracking hate crimes against transgender people for several years. In particular, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) includes transgender people in their collection of hate crime data against sexual minorities. When examining reports on 14 major cities, 5 states, and one multi-state region since 1997, the NCAVP reports an average of 213 hate crimes per year against transgender people. In 2004, the NCAVP reported the highest number of hate crimes against transgender people: 321 hate crimes. Nationally, this level of violence is comparable to the level of violence perpetrated against Muslims since 2002. Thus, the inclusion of gender identity in the categories reported in the Uniform Crime Reports and in the new National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) system would allow for more tracking of this serious problem.”

So it's heartening to see this return to the Legislature's agenda after the close miss of SB 180 in 2011. So far, SB 139 has 16 Senate sponsors and 21 Assembly sponsors. And even better, both lists are bipartisan. That's encouraging going forward.

Still, we can't forget how SB 180 unraveled in 2011. Transgender Nevadans can't afford for that to happen again. So I'm heading to Grant Sawyer today. I'll provide updates going forward on this and other LGBTQ equality legislation.

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