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COMMENTARY: Stop the hate! Free Kate!

Meet 17-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt:

• Sebastian River High School Senior
• Cheerleader
• Voted “most school spirited”

Meet the 18-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt:

• Expelled
• Arrested
• Charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12 to 16 years old

Kaitlyn "Kate" Hunt is - or I should say was – in a relationship with another female student. Kate and this other young woman started dating when Kate was 17 and a senior, and the other young woman was15.

They played on the same basketball team. But the coach feared that the romance would cause “drama” and made it very clear that he didn’t approve of their relationship, so he kicked Kate off the team.

Let’s be clear. The 15-year-old girl’s parents said nothing, asked no questions or raised no concerns to Kate or to Kate’s parents about their 15-year-old daughter being in a relationship with the 17-year-old Kate.

It was only after Kate turned 18 and was continuing the relationship that the parents of the 15-year-old asked for charges to be pressed. Kate was arrested and taken from her home in handcuffs.

A judge ruled that Kate could continue to go to her high school if she did not have contact with the 15-year-old. The girl’s parents were not happy with that decision, made an appeal to the school board, and Kate was then expelled. Reports are that she will be allowed to attend senior events and graduate from Sebastian River High School.

Also, according to reports, the District Attorney is pushing Kate to take a plea deal: Two years on house arrest, plus one year probation, and the charges would stay on her permanent adult record.

You can say – well, that’s the law in Florida and that’s just the way it is. But seriously, does this happen when a boy is 18 and the girl is 15 or the girl is 18 and the boy is 15? Would anyone even report it?

Tell me young boys don’t have sex with girls older than 18 – seriously. How many of them have been expelled from school and have a permanent record for lewd and lascivious battery of a child 12 to 16 years old? This particular case is a witch hunt – a homophobic, discriminatory lesbian witch hunt.

This is about homophobia. This is about a set of parents who believe that Kate made their daughter gay – and now Kate has to pay – FOREVER. Had they really been so disgusted, they would have ended the relationship when Kate was 17. Instead, they waited until six months after she turned 18. This is about revenge and destroying Kate’s life.

If Kate decides not to take the plea deal, the case goes to trial. Under Florida law, Kate could get up to 15 years in prison and must register as a sex offender.

The moment Kate turned 18, was she supposed to just stop having feelings for this girl she was involved with? Was she supposed to start thinking: Oops! Jail bait, see ya!

What would you have done?

SDGLN Contributor Barb Hamp Weicksel was born in 1952 in Pennsylvania and moved to California in the early 1980s, where she met her partner Susan. They've been together some 30 years and share the love of Susan's four children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her blog, Barb's Gift of Gab, can be found HERE.

To sign the Change.org petition regarding Hunt, click HERE.

To like the "Free Kate" Facebook page, click HERE.