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Sexual Orientation

A group of people walk down a street carrying a large LGBTQ pride flag.
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CRS works with communities to prevent and respond to alleged hate crimes based on actual or perceived sexual orientation. Some ways CRS supports these communities are:

  • Assisting law enforcement agencies, service agencies, and city officials to develop policies, best practices, and trainings to strengthen relationships with gay, lesbian, and bisexual community members
  • Bringing together community leaders, law enforcement professionals, city officials, and civil rights organizations after hate crimes are committed on the basis of sexual orientation to discuss community tension and how to best prevent and respond to future incidents
  • Facilitating programs in schools, universities, and other educational institutions to prevent and respond to incidents of bullying and hate crimes committed against gay, lesbian, and bisexual students

Below are some recent examples of CRS's work assisting communities experiencing tension and conflict based on actual or perceived sexual orientation. Additional case summaries may be found within CRS’s Annual Reports, located on the CRS Resource Center webpage.

Case Highlights

Local LGBTQ community organizers and allies who were looking to establish a chapter of a national LGBTQ support organization in Sparta, North Carolina, received threats and community resistance to establishing a chapter and placing a float in an Independence Day parade. Due to the threats, the organizers requested additional city resources. There was disagreement on what additional security resources were needed. In July 2019, LGBTQ community organizers contacted CRS with concerns that the city only served its straight, white Christian residents. They requested CRS facilitate a dialogue between the parties and communicate their concerns to local law enforcement and local government officials.

CRS traveled to Sparta, North Carolina, in July 2019 to assess and monitor threat and intimidation activity, including social media posts that appeared to threaten gun violence, and to consult with law enforcement officials in their efforts to provide security and assurance to parade participants. Prior to the parade, CRS met with the county and town law enforcement officials to discuss the alleged threats, intimidation, and harassment reported by Sparta’s LGBTQ community organizers. The law enforcement leaders acted on CRS’s suggestion to increase patrols of the float-building site and security during the parade.

Before and after the parade, CRS facilitated communications between federal, county, and town law enforcement officials, local elected officials, and regional and local representatives from a national LGBTQ organization. During the parade, CRS monitored the security measures in place and the interactions between the LGBTQ community organizers, their supporters, and the crowd. The parade proceeded with minimal protest activity and concluded peacefully.

In September 2019, CRS provided mediation services between local elected officials, law enforcement officials, local LGBTQ organizers and local domestic abuse resource center representatives. As a neutral mediator, CRS worked with the groups to discuss issues and concerns regarding establishing a LGBTQ support organization in Sparta and the necessary steps to ensure the chapter could safely form and operate.

During the mediation, CRS first worked with the parties together, then separately, and reconvened the parties for the final agreement.

In the mediation agreement, parties agreed to designate and train a victim witness liaison, establish a school board liaison, publicize meeting opportunities, and invite and sponsor external anti-bullying resources.

In 2019, tensions among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) and African American students at a local high school in Cheyenne, Wyoming steadily increased. School and community relations became more strained in March 2019 after flyers appeared on the school’s walls that expressed anti-African American and anti-LGBTQ messages. The flyer incident and an incident involving a state senator who allegedly made anti-LGBTQ comments at a meeting of the school’s LGBTQ youth organization were at the center of the community tension.

State health officials and a Cheyenne-based civil rights organization contacted CRS to improve deteriorating relationships at the school. After news of the flyers on the school walls became public, additional stories spread of students at the school passing out flyers targeting Gay Student Alliance (GSA) members. The school also confirmed reports that a student shouted anti-LGBTQ slurs during a junior high school LGBTQ youth organization meeting.

CRS facilitated a process between the district superintendent, the school board, and race-based and ethnic community leaders to address community concerns regarding the management of bias incidents and equity issues throughout the district. In addition, the parties discussed ways to create greater race and ethnic awareness.

The groups then participated in a community meeting where participants developed an action plan for Cheyenne’s schools and the broader community that identified the community’s key issues concerning race and ethnicity, perceived anti-LGBTQ bias, and ways to address these concerns. Meeting participants established two working groups, one with the school board and superintendent to identify the public’s concerns and make recommendations, and a second with African American and Latino leaders. Both working groups agreed to carry out the action plan that was informed by all dialogue participants.

In December 2016, LGBTQ leaders in the Bronx, New York, requested CRS services due to the rise in perceived hate crimes against LGBTQ communities across the country. The resulting community tension prompted community leaders, including community advocates, clergy members, and elected officials to join together to develop strategies to unite the community and raise awareness about impacts of bias and hate in New York City.

CRS provided consultation services to LGBTQ leadership, including best practices on conducting safe public events, effective working group structures, and the use of event marshals to improve public safety. The LGBTQs United as One rally took place on April 1, 2017, outside the Bronx Supreme Court, and included speakers from LGBTQ groups and the faith-based community. CRS also facilitated dialogues which helped improve communication between local law enforcement and event organizers during the event. The event, which lasted about six hours, was peaceful and well received by the community.

Resources for You

Toolkit: Working with LGBTQI+ Communities (PDF)

School-Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (School-SPIRIT) (PDF)

City-Site Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (City-SPIRIT) (PDF)

Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships (SPCP) (PDF)

Bias Incidents and Hate Crimes Forum (PDF)

Additional Resources and Informational Videos

Updated December 27, 2023