Leo Hoffman, a 12-year-old non-binary transgender student at Seminole Middle School was a victim of a hate crime Friday. Leo was attacked by 10 students who knocked them to the ground then dragged them, ripping their trans pride flag from their hands.
This attack at the beginning of PRIDE MONTH took place as DeSantis signed an anti-trans sports ban while inciting hatred against in his words, “transgender ideology.”
A group of at least 5 males approached Leo Hoffman and grabbed the flag and threw it into the garbage. According to Benjamin Hoffman, Leo’s father. Leo then took it back and put it on their shoulders like a cape.
Leo was then knocked to the ground, dragged, kicked, drenched with an unknown liquid until the assailants ripped and tore the flag out of his hands.
The Tampa Bay Times called the attack a ‘schoolyard scuffle.’ This was a hate crime, not some lunchtime “scuffle”.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department is investigating an incident that took place last Friday at Seminole Middle School.
One family sought help from U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, whose office reached out to the school.
“Administrators at Seminole Middle assured my office that disciplinary action was being pursued, and I hope the students in question will be able to learn from this and do better in future,” Crist said in a statement.
“No service member should have to battle discrimination against their family while serving our nation – including right here in the Sunshine State. #ProtectTransKids,” Rep. Crist wrote on Facebook in support of a bill to keep service members with transgender dependents from being stationed in Florida and out of harm’s way.
This is a video of my little sibling Leo who is non-binary being drug to the ground, stomped on, and covered in water just for wearing a pride flag at school. Please call Seminole Middle and request #justiceforleo at 727-547-4520 pic.twitter.com/VwNRidkeuj
— Ashleigh 🏳️🌈 (@Mermaid_Lover_) June 1, 2021
— Ashleigh 🏳️🌈 (@Mermaid_Lover_) June 2, 2021
The assault, which occurred just before LGBTQ Pride Month began, is just one of several incidents where gay, transgender or nonbinary people have been harassed or attacked in recent weeks.
In mid-May, college students at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., watched terrified from inside their on-campus house as former members of a now-banned fraternity shouted at them, urinated on the porch and swung a metal bar at the home’s pride flag. Two weeks ago, a 13-year-old student was slammed to the ground at a South Florida middle school, as other students shouted homophobic slurs. And over Memorial Day weekend, boaters in Washington state allegedly circled and jeered at another boat that was adorned with pride flags, creating a dangerous wake.
These ‘schoolyard scuffles’ are the prelude to greater violence enabled by the likes of Desantis. Florida has had four transgender women of color violently murdered since November 20, 2020, when the trans community gathers to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance.