Updated: Nov. 5, 2014 at 1:34 p.m.
This post was written by Hatchet reporter Esha Narola.
A campus police officer and member of the LGBT community encouraged students Wednesday to talk openly about hate crimes when he shared his personal experiences of facing harassment.
Since he joined the University Police Department three years ago, officer and GW graduate student Steve Gallucci said he has been harassed four times – though never on the job. Gallucci didn’t report any of the incidents, but said he came to regret those decisions and now shares his story because he wants to encourage others to come forward.
“I realized that by not reporting people like the ones who assaulted me, I was not being fair to you guys because they might do it again. You know, it is important that we all do our part in making D.C. a safer place to live,” Gallucci said to the room of about a dozen students.
The most recent time he said he was harassed, Gallucci was near a popular gay club, Town. He said that some men saw him and his friends walking on a crosswalk, started to yell gay slurs at them and then tried to attack them.
He said he hesitated to report such instances because he was never physically harmed, though now he said he thinks that was a mistake.
D.C. has the highest number of hate crimes that are gender-based or sexual-orientation-based in the country, Gallucci said. In 2012, there were 7.3 sexual-orientation-based hate crimes for every 100,000 people, compared to Memphis, the city with the second-highest number, which had 3.2 crimes for every 100,000 people.
Sexual harassment and sexual assaults are some of the most underreported crimes nationwide. Gallucci talked about the legal definition of a hate crime and the different types that exist. He said most sexual-orientation-based crimes are motivated by biases people have against the LGBT community.
He told the audience that hate crimes include verbal harassment, like the kind he experienced. Gallucci encouraged students to report any form of harassment, no matter how small it may appear.
Allied in Pride, the Association of Queer Women and Allies, the GW LGBT Resource Center and GW Students Against Sexual Assault sponsored the event.
“This city is a great place and GW is relatively safe, but it is important that students be reminded of the realities we face and know that we have resources to help each other out,” Allied in Pride President Rob Todaro said.
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that officer Gallucci was gay. He prefers to be identified as a member of the LGBT community. We regret this error.