A Massachusetts college is reeling from a reported anti-gay hate crime as the state prepares to vote on the nation’s first transgender ballot referendum.
College of the Holy Cross in Worcester is investigating reports that a student punched an LGBTQ-identified peer in the head after yelling an anti-gay slur.
John Hill, a spokesperson for the Jesuit liberal arts school, told INTO in a statement that the Department of Public Safety immediately opened an investigation, which is ongoing.
“While we are treating this matter very seriously and the Department of Public Safety is working hard to investigate, we are unable to provide or confirm any more details in order to maintain the privacy of the person who reported,” Hill said.
Mithra Salmassi, a co-officer of diversity for the school’s Student Government Association, told the Telegram and Gazette that the student was still recovering.
“The student has a very good support system – they’re doing OK,” Salmassi said, adding that while the school has aimed to provide resources to LGBTQ students, “They aren’t enough.”
In a letter to the campus Monday, Holy Cross President Rev. Philip Boroughs condemned the attack and the increase of violence against marginalized people across the nation.
“Individuals and communities across our country continue to be targeted on the basis of their ethnicity or immigration status, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and other identities,” Boroughs wrote. “Even as the frequency of such horrible acts seems to be on the rise, we must not become desensitized to them. We must continue to be outraged.”
The campus held a vigil Tuesday and prayed in solidarity with victims of bias-motivated violence.
“But this is not enough,” Boroughs wrote. He vowed further action on campus and asked for input on how to halt violence and bias on campus.
The attack comes as Massachusetts begins voting on the nation’s first statewide anti-transgender ballot referendum. The measure seeks to roll back anti-discrimination public accommodations protections implemented in 2016.
On Thursday, Massachusetts voters reported that music streaming service Spotify had been pushing anti-trans advertisements for the measure. The service promptly pulled the ad by Friday, stating it “violates portions of our advertising editorial policy and was served to our users in error.”
Keep MA Safe, the organization working to roll back transgender rights, has been pushing a series of messages that falsely imply that transgender people are bathroom predators. A study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that implementation of the 2016 protections resulted in no increase in criminal activity.
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