Media Trail

Gay hate crimes increase in Calif.

San Jose’s Mercury News reports a three-fold spike in homophobic hate crimes in Santa Clara County over the past year, and many believe it’s because of the fallout over Proposition 8.

Antigay incidents accounted for 56 percent of hate crimes reported in the county south of San Francisco in 2008. The year before, they accounted for 15 percent.

“Marriage equality and Prop. 8 have been in the news, and we have seen an increase in gay-bashing,” said Deputy District Attorney Jay Boyarsky, who monitors hate crimes for the District Attorney’s office.

Statistics from other California counties have not been released.

Girl wins right to wear tux to prom

The Indianapolis Star reports the school district in Lebanon, Ind., has reversed a policy that barred a female student from wearing a tuxedo to her school’s prom.

The unidentified 17-year-old Lebanon High School senior had recently filed a lawsuit that said the school violated her right to express herself and discriminated against her because of her gender.

Superintendent Robert L. Taylor said formal attire will be required at the prom, but the requirements won’t be “gender-based.”

American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana legal director Ken Falk, who was the girl’s attorney, said the teen is pleased with the decision and will attend the April prom in a tuxedo.

HIV rates rise in D.C.

The Washington Blade reports that two new studies show the national HIV epidemic is growing — and the numbers are especially bad in Washington, D.C., for men who have sex with men.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said D.C. has the highest HIV death rate in the country, at 37.1 per 100,000 people. The second highest is Florida at 9.8. The nation as a whole averages 4.2.

Justin Goforth, head of the Whitman-Walker Clinic’s medical adherence unit, said the data show that “here in D.C., we have an epidemic that’s out of control.”

According to the report, there was a 26-percent increase from 2004-07 in estimated annual HIV/AIDS diagnoses among men who have sex with men.

— Larry Nichols