Florida Teen Faces Felony Charges Over Same-Sex Relationship

Kaitlyn Hunt, an 18-year-old high school senior from Indian River County, Florida, is facing felony charges for engaging in a sexual relationship with another girl at her school.

Kate, then 17, reportedly met the unnamed then-14-year-old toward the beginning of the school year.

The two began dating last September shortly after Kate's 18th birthday, and their relationship eventually became intimate.

Everything was fine until a few months later, when Kate was suddenly arrested and charged with two counts of sexual battery on a person 12-16 years old.

It seems Kate's girlfriend's parents found out about the relationship, and went straight to the police.

Though Kate may have run afoul of the state's age-of-consent statute, her mother believes the charges have little to do with the law and everything to do with homophobia on the part of her girlfriend's parents:

They are out to destroy my daughter, because they feel like she ‘made’ their daughter gay. They see being gay as wrong and they blame my daughter. Of course, I see it 100% differently. I don’t see or label these girls as gay. They are teenagers in high school experimenting with their sexuality – with mutual consent. And even if their daughter is gay, who cares? She is still their daughter.

Sebastian River High School, where Kate was voted "Student with Most School Spirit," has taken a similarly prejudiced approach toward dealing with the situation, according to Kate's father.

First she was kicked off the school's basketball team by the coach in order to avoid "drama."

Then, caving to pressure from the parents of Kate's girlfriend, the school board voted to expel her.

Kate is now faced with a Sophie's Choice: Accept Assistant State Attorney Brian Workman's plea deal, which would require her to admit to a felony, spend two years under house arrest, and possibly end up on the sex offender registry for life — or go to trial.

She has until this Friday to decide.

Refusing to remain silent, Kate's family has launched a petition to convince Workman to "stop the prosecution of an 18-year-old girl in a same-sex relationship." The petition has nearly 56,000 supporters at the time of writing.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed Kate's 18th birthday as having occurred this year. According to court records obtained by ThinkProgress, Kate turned 18 on August 18th of last year. She was arrested in February.

[photos via Facebook]