King’s Death Not Isolated

Students continue to mourn in Oxnard, California this morning.

As many of you know, a 14-year old California kid named Lawrence King remains on life support after being shot in the head earlier this week. All signs indicate that the shooter, classmate Brandon McInerney shot King for being too feminine. Hate crime charges have been filed against McInerney, although police won’t specify why exactly those charges were included. Regardless of the motive, it’s a terrible crime and makes us wonder what exactly is wrong with kids these days. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Matt Foreman released a statement this morning:

Right now we don’t know exactly how anti-gay hate expressed itself in the murder of Lawrence King. We do know is that he was harassed on a daily basis because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. We do know that adults at his junior high school did not stop it and that kind of tolerance of anti-gay bigotry is pervasive in our nation’s schools. Our hearts go out to Lawrence’s family – and to all young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids who are – right now, right this minute – being bullied and beaten in school while adults look the other way.

The accused shooter’s family insist that he and they are “terribly sad to learn [King] is brain-dead”. We suspect they’ll be even more upset when King’s pulled off life support.

John Ireland, a school administrator from California, wrote a commentary on King’s death in which he discusses King’s bravery:

Unlike most boys his age, Lawrence King did not seek to blend in. Many of us remember junior high as our most harrowing years of peer pressure and social uncertainty, no matter what crowd we fit into — nerd, jock, pep squad, orchestra or somewhere in between.

At 15, King dressed effeminately, wore makeup and fingernail polish and, according to the Los Angeles Times, told people he was gay.

School officials knew that King had been bullied. They had attempted, unsuccessfully, to contain and prevent the tension on campus that followed him around. A police spokesman said there had been, between these two students, some “bad blood.”

Ireland – and many others – are calling on politicos to take a closer look at bully laws and take a more proactive role in protecting queer – or allegedly queer – kids who face harassment at school. Let’s hope, pray and dream King’s death won’t be in vain, because that would be the real crime.

[Image via LA Times]