As the summer of 2012 came to an end, the future looked bright for 17-year-old Sebastian River High School senior Kaitlyn Hunt. Voted the student with "Most School Spirit" by her peers, Kaitlyn was an active cheerleader, a basketball player, a camp counselor and cheering coach, and a medical assistant training to join the nursing program at Valencia College after graduation. She looked forward to a career helping others and a memorable final year of high school.
At the beginning of the school year, Kaitlyn made friends with a 14-year-old freshmen girl in Sebastian River High's IB program who played varsity sports and took classes with upper classmen. The girls were peers in the same social circle, and as happens every day high schools across America, their friendship eventually developed into more. In September, shortly after Kaitlyn's 18th birthday, the girls began dating, and they eventually expressed their affection for one another in intimate ways.
When the girls' basketball coach found out that two of her players were dating, she kicked Kaitlyn off the team and informed her girlfriend's parents that their daughter was in a same-sex relationship. The parents then conspired with police to entrap Kaitlyn and press charges.
The police recorded a phone conversation between the two girls, now 18 and 15, in which they discussed their relationship. Kaitlyn was arrested and charged with two counts of felony lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12-16. Kaitlyn's girlfriend denies that Kaitlyn ever pressured her and is adamant that their relationship is entirely consensual, but her parents are out to destroy Kaitlyn's life. After two separate judges ruled that Kaitlyn could finish her senior year with her peers, her girlfriend's parents appealed to the Indian River County School Board, who expelled Kaitlyn sent her to the alternative school.
The law is designed to protect our children, but the law does not serve its purpose when it is applied to consensual behavior between peers.
What can you do to help? First, please sign this petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/indian-river-county-state-attorney-s-office-stop-the-prosecution-of-an-18-year-old-girl-in-a-same-sex-relationship?utm_campaign=friend_inviter_chat&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=permissions_dialog_false
Next, if you're a resident of Florida, please contact your state legislators and tell them the law needs to protect high school peers from prosecution. Find your state legislators here: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Welcome/index.cfm?CFID=295718277&CFTOKEN=95887900
If not a Florida resident, contact your legislators, anyway. Most states have similarly unjust laws.
If you know a high school student, make sure he or she knows the law. We don't want our children going to jail out of ignorance.
Finally, share this story with everyone you know. Things need to change. We can make that change happen together.
These laws are making sexual predators out of otherwise upstanding teens who are only guilty of falling in love and who are NOT preying on those who are well outside of their age range. Current Florida Law allows sexual relationships between 16 year olds and 23 year olds, but criminalizes relationships between 15 year olds and 18 year olds. Florida, please concentrate on ADULT predators who are sexually preying on those who are much, much, younger than them! THESE OLDER ADULTS are the REAL threats!