Fort Worth is full of nothing but a bunch of hicks that hate gays — that’s what Kyle Woodruff thought the entire five years he lived in Dallas.
But when his job took him to Fort Worth last spring, his opinions changed.
"I’m not sure why I gave it such a bad rap," Woodruff said. "Now that I’m here, it’s actually pretty nice to gays. I mean I still wouldn’t walk down the street holding hands with my partner, but it’s better than I thought."
In fact, new numbers released by the FBI this week hint that Fort Worth might actually be a safer place to live for LGBT people than Dallas. In 2007, there were seven anti-gay hate crimes in Dallas. In Fort Worth, there were none, according to the FBI statistics.
Arlington and Bedford each recorded one anti-gay hate crime last year.
"Even though I think Fort Worth is a great place to live, I’m shocked to hear those numbers. My gut tells me it’s because there are more people in Dallas and just more crime in general," Woodruff said.
Dallas’ population in 2007 was 1,239,104. Fort Worth’s population was 670,693. And from 1998 to 2005, Dallas had the highest overall crime rate for United States cities with populations over 1 million.
Officials with the Fort Worth Police Department also say the discrepancy could be explained by differences in how police in the two cities classify hate crimes.
No matter how it’s explained, Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Patti Fink thinks the numbers show that Dallas might have come a long way, but it still has issues to resolve.
"I think it’s a very real problem everywhere," she said.
"The bottom line to preventing this is education. We must educate people on who we are. That often means coming out to those around you."
Across the board in 2007, African-Americans were most often targeted in hate crimes, with 44 race-based hate crimes in the Metroplex. Dallas had the most at 14.
"No matter where or what time, hate crimes are horrible things," Woodruff said. "I can’t believe we’re still seeing them in this day and age."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released a report on 2007 hate crime statistics on Monday, Oct. 27 that showed the number of hate crimes overall was down last year, compared to 2006. But there were 45 more anti-gay hate crimes last year than the year before.
A total of 1,460 anti-gay hate crimes were reported to the FBI in 2007, compared to 1,415 in 2006. But the big difference was in the number of anti-gay murders from one year to the next: None were reported in 2006, and there were five in 2007.
Most of the anti-gay hate crimes reported in 2007 were classified as simple assaults; 335 were classified as intimidation, and 314 were incidents of vandalism. Another 242 were aggravated assaults.
There were also 53 robberies, 16 burglaries, 23 thefts, two motor vehicle thefts, three incidents of arson, three classified as "crimes against society," and a total of 15 incidents listed under "other" last year.
Aggravated assaults, incidents of intimidation, thefts, motor vehicle thefts and incidents of vandalism in 2007 were all down slightly compared to 2006. But the increase in anti-gay murders and simple assaults made up the difference, and then some.
Overall, the 2007 report — which includes hate crimes committed out of bias based on race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity or national origin and disability — showed a total of 7,624 criminal incidents involving 9,006 offenses.
In 2006, there were a total of 9,080 offenses.
According to the 2007 report, of the 7,621 single-bias incidents, 50.8 percent were motivated by a racial bias, 18.4 percent were motivated by a religious bias, 16.6 percent were motivated by a sexual-orientation bias, and 13.2 percent were motivated by an ethnicity/national origin bias.
Only 1 percent involved a bias against a disability.
There were 5,408 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against persons in 2007. Intimidation accounted for 47.4 percent of crimes against persons, simple assaults for 31.1 percent, and aggravated assaults for 20.6 percent.
Nine murders overall were reported as hate crimes in 2007.
There were 3,579 hate crime offenses classified as crimes against property; 81.4 percent were acts of destruction/damage/vandalism. The remaining 18.6 percent of crimes against property consisted of robbery, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson and other offenses.
Of the 6,965 known offenders, 62.9 percent were white and 20.8 percent were black. The race was unknown for 9.8 percent, and other races accounted for the remaining known offenders.
The largest percentage — 30.5 percent — of hate crime incidents occurred in or near homes. Another 18.9 percent took place on highways, roads, alleys, or streets; 11.3 percent happened at schools or colleges; 6 percent in parking lots or garages; and 4.1 percent in churches, synagogues, or temples.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 31, 2008.