February 5, 1998 in Idaho

Leader Of Gay Support Group Taunted, Attacked Four Teenage Boys Beat Up Victim While Adults Walk By

Associated Press
 

A Corvallis High School senior who leads a support group for gay students was taunted and then attacked by four teenage boys on his way home from school, police said.

Paul Miller, 17, said two adults walked by Monday afternoon as the group taunted him with the epithets “queer” and “faggot.”

“They had such strong hatred,” Miller said.

Surely, he thought, one of the adults would stop to help. But they didn’t. They walked on by.

Miller said the assault began when a boy yelled at him from a porch across the street, saying “Hey, are you a homosexual?” Miller said he replied, “Yes.”

The boy then called him names and said “Let’s go fag-bashing,” Miller said. Soon after, he said, the boys began following him, yelling at him.

One asked, “Do you want to lose your teeth, faggot?” Miller said. He replied, “Do you want to get arrested?”

One of the boys hit Miller in the mouth, knocking out two of his teeth. He was left with a mouthful of wires and stitches and must undergo two root canals to avoid infection.

Corvallis police were investigating the attack Tuesday.

While police have leads, officer Lee McColly said, the boy who hit Miller apparently is a transient and hasn’t been tracked down.

If police find him, he’ll likely face charges of assault and intimidation. Whether charges would be filed against the other three youths has yet to be determined, McColly said.

Prudence Miles, ombudsman for the city, said the people involved in the attack need to know the gravity of what they’ve done.

An incident is considered a hate crime when someone threatens somebody based on perceptions of race, religion, national origin or sexual orientation, she said.

Karuna Neustadt, president of After 8, an advocacy group for gays, lesbians and bisexuals, said the only way to stop such violence is to expose it. “When we hide it, it festers,” she said. “But by bringing it to light, we can work to end it.”

Miller said he’s hopeful some good will come from what’s happened.

He said the attack makes him want to work even harder with the support group, called the Gay Straight Alliance. The group will be honored next month with a civil service award by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“I’m real proud of the work I’ve done. I don’t feel I’ve done anything wrong,” he said.

© Copyright 1998 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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