January 10, 2012
Hazing victim was gay
According the The Advocate, Robert Champion, Jr. the Florida A&M band member who was beaten to death in a hazing incident last November, was not only a very good musician, contender for drum major, and an opponent of hazing rituals, but was also gay.
Although his mother says she doesn't think his identity played a role in the hazing that claimed his life, the incident has been ruled a homicide, and certainly could be identified as a hate crime if it came to light that he was target for being gay. Equality Florida's website says sexual orientation is included in the state's hate crimes law.
ABC News however, reported on a press conference put on by the Champion family and their lawyer, where his sexual identity was mentioned, but downplayed as a factor in Champion's death. The family's lawyer claims the real reason behind his particularly harsh hazing was his strict adherence to the rules surrounding the practice.
If he was targeted because of his sexual identity, this would add another layer of shock to an already shocking case.