Gay Portage, Mich. teen assault draws LGBT concern


By Jessica Carreras
PrideSource.com
PORTAGE, Mich. — The Portage teen who was beaten up earlier this month for being gay has elicited quite a response from the LGBT community — and inspired many, too.

According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, Steven Harmon, 15, was hanging out at a local Chuck E. Cheese with a 17-year-old girl who is a friend of his on the night of Aug. 13 when two boys, ages 15 and 16, began harassing them, calling them anti-gay slurs such as “faggot” and “dyke.”

After leaving the establishment, Harmon and his friend were approached by the two boys again in the parking lot of the apartment complex where the girl lives. The boys continued with the name-calling and began to punch Harmon in the face and head until his friend stopped them and the boys ran away.

The reason for their animosity? Harmon had just come out the week before as gay, and his friend was a lesbian.

“From reviewing the report, it would appear the suspects may have targeted him because of his sexual orientation,” Lt. Tom Palenick of the Portage Police Department told the Gazette. “Our department chose the most serious crime that we could charge them with under the circumstances and the most serious charge was issued by the prosecutor’s office.”

Harmon’s mother, Lynette Rocha, vowed to have the boys prosecuted for hate crimes against her son — but is unable to do so because current Michigan hate crimes law only covers gender, race, color, religion and national origin. Full story.

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