The City of Angels celebrated a paltry victory on Thursday when the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations released its annual Hate Crime Report.
The findings demonstrated a 4 percent overall drop in hate crimes in the Los Angeles County area, but found that hate crimes against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community increased by 21 percent. The report also found that hate crimes against members of the GLBT community tended to be more violent than hate crimes driven by religion or race.
The report links the increase in part to the passage of Proposition 8, the contentious ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage in California.
But ultimately this pattern of discrimination is not a new development. The statistics put a number on what has been a visible swell in hate crimes against the GLBT community in the past few years. The Oxnard, Calif. shooting of an openly gay student in February of 2008 is just one example of the statewide problem.
Other commendable federal and statewide strides have been made to decrease discrimination — including the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which endured more than a decade of revisions before it was successfully pushed through the House and Senate in October.
But though federal legislation is important, the issue of hate crimes shouldn’t be tackled retroactively. The best place to introduce a strong message of nondiscrimination is in the Los Angeles County public school system.
All schools already support anti-discrimination policies, but administrators should make a concerted effort to create programs that cement these laws into the student mindset. Student organizations like Gay-Straight Alliances are good way to foster a nondiscriminatory attitude.
There’s not denying that money is tight for California public schools, but the statistics reveal a need for action. Let’s start from the bottom up.
Lucy Mueller is a junior majoring in cinema-television production, and the Daily Trojan’s editorial director.