Sunday, March 09, 2008

Homophbia and Anti-gay Bullying Led to Lawrence King's Murder

Based on this story in the Mercury News (, it unfortunately appears that the administration at the school where Lawrence King was murdered truly dropped the ball and failed to take proper action to stop the bullying and nastiness that this poor boy had to deal with prior to his murder. Sadly, I believe far too many school administrators and teachers turn a blind eye at gay bashing and bullying of LGBT students either out of laziness or their own anti-gay bigotry. Much more needs to be done to hold teachers and school officials accountable when LGBT students are allowed to be subjected to merciless attacks and meanness.

The story also makes it clear that but the stigma attached to being gay which is continually reinforced by the hate merchants of the Christian Right, none of this might never have happened. At the same time, it appears that his killer came from a truly dysfunctional home situation and that there should have been more intervention by social services or some authorities. Ironically, a stable gay couple would have been far better parents to Larry’s killer than what he received from his heterosexual parents. All in all, it is a truly tragic story and focuses a spotlight on the Hell that many LGBT students get subjected to with little or no notice or care by those that should be looking out for them. Here are some story highlights:

According to the few students who befriended him, Larry, 15 years old and openly gay, found no refuge from his tormentors at E.O. Green Junior High School. Not in the classroom, the quad, the cafeteria. Not from the day he enrolled at the school in Oxnard, about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, until the moment he was shot to death in a computer lab, just after his usual morning van ride from the shelter a town away.

The anti-gay taunts and slurs that Larry endured from his male peers apparently had been constant, as routine for him as math lessons and recess bells. The stinging words were isolating. As friend Melissa Reza, 15, put it, Larry lived much of his life "toward the side ... he was always toward the side."

She and others recall that the name-calling had begun long before he told his small circle of confidants that he was gay, before problems at home made him a ward of the court and before he summoned the courage to further assert his sexual orientation by wearing makeup and girls' boots with his school uniform. His friends say the verbal cruelty had persisted for months and grew worse after slightly built Larry pushed back by "flirting" with some of his mockers. One of them was Brandon, who seethed over it, friends say.

Friends and adult acquaintances say they are still struggling to make sense of the crime Brandon is charged with, especially given the cold-blooded nature of the killing: two shots to the head in an attack carried out at 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday in a roomful of youngsters unpacking their books and calculators. Some students say Brandon, tall and strong for his age, was one of the "cool" students and could be unfriendly. "If you weren't part of that group, it was like you didn't exist," said Erin Mings, 12. "He was a real jerk."

Earlier this year, some of Brandon's classmates say, Larry began "hitting" on him and remarking for all to hear that he thought Brandon was "cute." Other boys then ribbed Brandon by saying he must be gay. Michael Sweeney, an eighth-grader at E.O. Green, picked up on the whispering that followed. "Brandon told this one girl that he was going to kill Larry," Michael said. "She didn't tell the principal. I didn't either, after I heard about it. I thought it was a joke." Larry was shot the next day.

Larry's friends offer differing accounts of whether he had complained to teachers about the taunting. Some say he had decided not to report it, fearing that he would be branded a "rat" and suffer the consequences. "They used to bug him a lot, pick on him -- 'Hey you, gay kid ... want to wear lipstick?'" Vanessa Ramirez, 15, said of Larry's belittlers. "He'd start crying. ... He didn't want to tell the teachers because they'd start picking on him more."

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