The recent alleged anti-gay assaults of two Georgetown University students has stirred both the Georgetown and GW LGBTQ communities and raised questions over whether gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender students are safe.
Around 200 people attended a vigil in support of the victims on Monday night in Georgetown’s Red Square, and students had gathered there Sunday evening to protest the reported assaults over the past week.
The victims include a female student harassed and assaulted last Tuesday while wearing a T-shirt supporting gay rights.
Georgetown’s Department of Public Safety categorized the crime as a “Hate or Bias Related Incident.”
The second alleged victim is a male student who was walking near 36th and N streets when he was assaulted early Sunday morning by an unknown male in an act believed to be motivated by anti-gay bias.
The suspect reportedly asked the victim several times, “Are you a homo?” and then fled the scene after physically assaulting the victim, according to a DPS report.
The editorial board of Georgetown’s student newspaper, The Hoya, called the attacks “a disappointing wake-up call for us” in a recent editorial.
Michael Komo, president of Allied in Pride at GW, said he was deeply saddened by the recent assaults.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of these victims,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday night.
The executive board of Allied in Pride met Wednesday to discuss what to do about the two assaults. Allied in Pride will consult Georgetown University and the Metropolitan Police Department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit before taking action, Komo said.
“We want to make sure that these assaults were actual hate crimes,” he said Tuesday. “We don’t want to act preemptively.”
A statement from MPD spokeswoman Traci Hughes says the investigation into the incidents is ongoing and asks anyone with information about the cases to come forward.
“The GLLU is also working closely with Georgetown DPS, student groups, faculty and administration in order to return a sense of safety to the campus. We are developing a number of safety seminars geared towards personal safety, assault prevention and incident and crime reporting,” the statement said.
Patrols by the GLLU and Second District officers will be increased in the area of Georgetown University as well.
“These assaults, on or off campus, are a serious concern for us. We will do everything in our power to bring those responsible to justice. We have aggressive laws in the District to prosecute hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law and we intend to use them,” MPD Chief Cathy Lanier said in a statement.
Allied in Pride plans to vote on dedicating Trans Day of Remembrance – a candlelight vigil held every November to honor victims of transgender crimes – to the two recent victims.
Komo explained that although “these crimes were not against transgender people, these individuals are part of the LGBT community.”
The Hoya’s editorial board wrote Tuesday that the assaults of the past week have demonstrated that the Georgetown University’s efforts to make the LGBTQ community feel secure have “come up short.”
Komo said he was pleased with the way GW has treated the LGBTQ community.
“We have been fortunate that we haven’t seen hate crimes at GW. For that, I am thankful.”
Komo attributes the reduction of hate crimes and their likelihood at GW to institutions like 4-RIDE and the University Police Department. Allied in Pride also has a contact within UPD and MPD’s GLLU, Komo said.
“We have worked with them and will continue to work with them in order to both educate people on the issue of hate crimes and to prevent them at the same time,” Komo said in an e-mail.
With the recent assaults at Georgetown, Komo said, “People are now more aware of the issue if they weren’t already.”