1. Know and understand your local hate crime laws. They differ from state to state, and city to city.
Federal hate crime law includes offenses motivated by the victim’s race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, or disability. The Shepard-Byrd Act only applies to violent felonies such as murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, kidnapping or rape. State-level hate crime laws vary widely. Some also include misdemeanors such as vandalism or property damage, threats, or intimidation. They also cover different types of victims.
- 31 states and DC include sexual orientation among protected victims
- 18 states and DC include gender identity or gender expression
- 5 states have no state-level hate crimes law (Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Wyoming)