expelled and is facing felony charges for dating a 15-year-old freshman at the same school. Parents complained, and it became a classic "we don't want you to date our daughter" story, but with a modern twist: both of the students are girls.An 18-year-old high school senior in Florida has been
Kaitlyn Hunt was arrested on February 16 and charged with two counts of “lewd and lascivious battery on a child 12-16 years of age.” If convicted, she faces jail time or house arrest and will have to register as a sex offender, something that could affect her for the rest of her life. She has until this Friday to accept a plea deal -- two years of house arrest, followed by a year of probation plus sex-abuse counseling -- or take her case to trial.Also on Shine: Indiana Anti-Gay Prom Plan Sparks Backlash
According to the Hunt family, Kaitlyn met her girlfriend (who has not been named) months ago, during basketball practice at Sebastian River High School (the school did not return Yahoo! Shine's request for comment). The younger girl was also on the team, and took advanced classes with older students. The two girls quickly became friends, and then started dating.
Though her mother, Kelley Hunt Smith, says that the relationship was "unusual" for Kaitlyn -- "She has always dated boys," Smith said in a statement on Facebook -- her parents also say it was clearly consensual and both girls appeared happy.
"This girl came to my home," Smith said on Facebook. "The girls would hang out together at after school activities. I was there, I saw the other girl's father there several times, he saw them together as well, so I assumed her family was aware of it and didn’t have any issues either."
But when the basketball coach discovered that the two were dating, Kaitlyn was kicked off of the team and the other girl's parents were told that their daughter was in a homosexual relationship. The girl's parents were furious and called the police, who arrested Kaitlyn at her mother's house on February 16.
"They didn't want their daughter in a sexual relationship with anyone in the same gender," Kaitlyn's father, Steven Hunt, told Yahoo! Shine in an interview on Monday. "I'm assuming that, once they found out that they could not control their daughter any longer, this is the avenue they went."
"These people never came to us as parents, never tried to speak to us... and tell us they had a problem with the girls dating," Smith continued. "They were out to destroy my daughter. [They] feel like my daughter 'made' their daughter gay."
"The day we found out they didn't approve of it was the day she [Kaitlyn] was taken to jail," Hunt told Yahoo! Shine.
Florida's "Romeo and Juliet" law -- which allows underage couples to avoid sex-offender status if the relationship is consensual and if certain other criteria are met -- does not apply to same-sex relationships, Hunt told Yahoo! Shine. Kaitlyn plans to attend the nursing program at Valencia College in the fall, her father told Yahoo! Shine, and that is one of the biggest reasons why the family is fighting to clear her name.
"Our ultimate goal here is Kaitlyn's freedom, and Kaitlyn's reputation as a human being," her father told Yahoo! Shine. "There is no way anyone is going to hire someone with a felony child abuse charge. This is literally her future."
To that end, he launched a petition on Change.org calling on Florida state attorneys to stop prosecuting Kaitlyn for being in a same-sex relationship. More than 68,000 people have signed on in support, including other students at Kaitlyn's high school.
"Kaitlin is one of my very best friends," wrote Taylor Giblin on the Change.org petition. "She is harmless and does not deserve this by ANY means. STOP THE HATE, FREE KATE. The people that need to be in jail are murderers and actual sexual predators."
"I would hate for one of my sons to be branded a pedophile for life just because he turned 18 before his girlfriend," added Emily Loose of Casper, Wyoming. "This isn't just a homosexual situation."
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