Thursday, February 14, 2008

Gay Student Shot at School Declared Brain Dead

I have posted several times on the effort by Christiansists in California to overturn SB 777 which extends non-discrimination protections to LGBT public school students. This sad incident involving the death of a gay junior high student in Oxnard, California, shows how desperately this type of protection is needed. Moreover, it shows the critical need for school officials to have a zero tolerance policy on bullying and the disparagement of gays. It certainly is disturbing that the “Christians” opposing SB 777 believe that they should be free to harass and mistreat others based on nonconformance with their Christianist religious dogma. Religious based bigotry and intolerance is, in my view, one of the biggest problems in contemporary society. The USA is fighting in Iraq to counter religious fundamentalism, yet it is allowed to run unfettered at home. Here are some story highlights from the Los Angeles Times (,0,7204301.story):

An Oxnard junior high student who was shot in the head by a classmate earlier this week was declared brain dead Wednesday, and the 14-year-old male suspect now faces a first-degree murder charge, authorities said. Lawrence King, 15, was declared brain dead by two neurosurgeons about 2 p.m. at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, said Craig Stevens, senior deputy Ventura County medical examiner. King's body remains on a ventilator for possible organ donation, he said. He was shot early Tuesday in a classroom at E.O. Green Junior High School.

[S]everal students at the south Oxnard campus said King and his alleged assailant had a falling out stemming from King's sexual orientation. The teenager sometimes wore feminine clothing and makeup, and proclaimed he was gay, students said. "He would come to school in high-heeled boots, makeup, jewelry and painted nails -- the whole thing," said Michael Sweeney, 13, an eighth-grader. "That was freaking the guys out."

Several students said that a day before the shooting, King and several boys had some kind of altercation during the lunch period. If the suspect targeted King because of his sexual orientation, the case could rise to the level of a hate crime, authorities said.

Bullying in schools has long been a problem. But recent studies show that a student who comes "out" as gay or lesbian is far more likely to suffer abuse than others, said Kevin Jennings, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network based in New York. A student thought to be gay was five times as likely to be threatened or injured by a weapon, a 2002 California Department of Education study said. Jennings said other studies have found similar results. His group advocates more teacher training on how to handle bullying and harassment, specifically of gay students.

"This Oxnard shooting is very upsetting but not surprising," Jennings said. "The real issue is not the kid coming out, but the kid sitting next to him. Schools must teach that we may not like one another, but we must respect one another."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this.

What very little and I mean very little my local newspaper has picked up on this story (via wire service and obviously edited) had not mentioned the victim was gay.

Thanks to bloggers we all can eventually get ALL the news about gay hate crimes.