Is It Illegal to be a Gay Teen in Florida?

Kaitlyn’s family are utilizing social media to bring attention to her case. Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn’s mother Kelley Hunt Smith.

We can talk about supporting marriage equality and gay acceptance all we want, but LGBT teens still struggle with all sorts of bullying, homelessness and other issues related to oppression. Even legal issues. A Florida crisis case right now illustrates the precariousness of being an LGBT teen in a frightening way.

A high school student is facing felony charges because on her 18th birthday the parents of her girlfriend decided to legally harass her. I don’t understand why law enforcement is assisting this, because if Kaitlyn were an 18-year-old boy they wouldn’t be involved. In Florida, typically legal action about consensual relationships between teens would only be pursued if the one person is 24-years-old or older.



It seems clear that Kaitlyn is in trouble because she’s gay. There is a window of time where she has already turned 18 and before her girlfriend turns 16, and carefully timed prosecution is leveraging that against her. Her supportive and desperate parents have posted a petition with the hopes of showing Florida’s justice system that the world is watching and doesn’t condone such persecution:

My daughter Kaitlyn is a wonderful 18-year-old who is not guilty of anything other than a high school romance, but is being prosecuted for 2 felony counts of “lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12–16 years of age,” because she has a girlfriend who is 15.

Kailtyn’s girlfriend’s parents are pressing charges because they are against the same-sex relationship, even though their daughter has stated that this is a consensual relationship. The two girls began dating while Kaitlyn was 17 but her girlfriend’s parents blamed Kailtyn for their daughter’s homosexuality. They waited until after Kaitlyn turned 18 and went to the police to have charges brought against her.

I’m really worried about this, and about these young women who are being shredded in a legal chess game because they are in a relationship. Aren’t there many more appropriate ways for families to address this sort of issue without felony charges? Felony charges? I can’t even wrap my brain around it the disproportionate actions against these young women.

I’m signing the petition, in case a show of support helps this family show prosecutors that an injustice like this is not going to be ignored, and in case it helps show other gay teens that the majority of the world does not want their behavior criminalized. What else can we do? What would you do if you were the parents in this case?


Check out some of my other posts on Babble Voices: 

Parents as Gender Warriors

Gay Marry Me: We’re on the Right Side of History

Watching Gay Parents on The New Normal

 Chick-fil-A: Eat, Pray, Love

Coming Out with Anderson and Megan

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Article Posted 3 years Ago
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