The plight of the parents of 18-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt is heart-wrenching.
Their high-school daughter, who earned good grades, was a cheerleader, played basketball and sung in the school chorus, had a bright future ahead of her.But when the parents of Hunt’s 15-year-old girlfriend brought charges against her for lewd and lascivious battery of a minor, Hunt’s life began to crumble.
Her parents have taken to change.org with a petition that has received more than 155,000 signatures asking that the charges against her be dropped on the basis that the intent behind the case was homophobic.
But while the parents of the 15-year-old teen have stated that Hunt “made” their daughter a lesbian, the issue at hand is one that should be separated from the sexual orientations of the individuals involved.
Age of consent is a sensitive and controversial issue and questions of parity arise for both heterosexual andnon-heterosexual individuals.
Should someone barely over the age of 18 who engages in a consensual relationship with someone barely under 18 be viewed the same way in the eyes of the law as a 35-year-old teacher who uses his or her age and authority to coerce a student into having sex with them? Both are labeled with the term“sex offenders.”
While the debate persists over whether or not the age of consent is fair, this particular case unfortunately violates current Florida statutes and should not be dragged into the debate over gay rights, but rather betreated as a separate, but equally pertinent, issue.
But the girls’ case, despite its homophobic origin, is one that should legally be centered solely around the age of consent — something plenty of heterosexual individuals are regularly prosecuted for and an issue that should be examined on its own merits.
Tying this issue to the LGBT movement to advance gay rights muddies the waters, giving detractors more fodder to advance their arguments of moral corruptness.
The debate over the age of consent, or perhaps agedifferences in consensual relationships, is certainly an important one to be had, but one that should be conducted in a separate arena.
Divya Kumar is a junior majoring in mass communications and economics.