ROCK HILL, SC - Gay students at a South Carolina university are being advised to conceal their sexual orientation when off campus.
The warning follows an attack on an openly gay 19-year-old, WBTV in Charlotte, N.C., reported.
Kelly James, a professor of sociology and criminology at Winthrop University in Rock Hill and adviser to a gay group, says she is educating her students know about the attack.
"My first thought was that, I've got to let my students know so that when they are out and about in Rock Hill that they, you know, act straight, And that's a sad lesson in 2011 to be teaching young people. I mean, it's been off the books as a mental illness since 1973," James said.
Joshua Esskew, 19, was attacked by eight men at a gas station and convenience store in a beating videotaped by a security camera. Esskew, who was kicked, punched and hit on the head with a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor, is openly homosexual.
A state senator says the beating shows South Carolina needs a hate crime law.
Sen. John King, a Democrat who represents Rock Hill, where the beating occurred, said he will reintroduce a measure he offered last year. Last year, the bill stalled in committee, but King said this year he has a co-sponsor and he hopes it will get to a vote.