1. Know and understand your local hate crime laws. They differ from state to state, and city to city.
Federal hate crime laws prohibit physical violence, threats of violence, and property damage if the actions of the offender are motivated by the victim’s real or perceived race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. The Shepard-Byrd law specifically prevents violent conduct against a person if that violence is perpetrated against the victim because she belongs to a certain protected class. State hate crime laws vary in terms of the conduct prohibited and the possible sentences imposed. Some state hate crime laws include provisions for civil remedies and some include provisions mandating that their law enforcement officers receive a certain number of hours of training on hate crime enforcement and reporting.
- 21 states and DC include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity among other protected classes (ME, VT, NY, MA, CT, RI, NJ, HI, DE, MD, VA, IL, MO, MN, CO, NM, UT, NV, AZ, WA, OR)
- 12 states include protections for sexual orientation as one of the their protected classes (NH, KY, TN, GA, FL, LA, TX, WI, IA, NE, KS, AZ)
- 14 states do not include protections for sexual orientation or gender identity (AL, AK, ID, MI, MS, MT, NC, ND, OH, OK, PA, SD, UT, WV)
- 4 states have not state-level hate crimes laws (AR, IN, SC, WY)