Lawyer blames school in shooting of gay California student. Officials failed to defuse tensions

Deputy Public Defender William Quest said the school is at fault for not taking action when conflict began between Lawrence King and his murderer. Brandon McInerney [14], is soon to be arraigned for the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Lawrence King.

Educators should have moved aggressively to quell rising tensions between the two boys, which began when King openly flirted with McInerney, said Deputy Public Defender William Quest. Instead, administrators were so intent on nurturing King as he explored his sexuality, allowing him to come to school wearing feminine makeup and accessories, that they downplayed the turmoil that his behavior was causing on campus, Quest said.”

The school responds:

“School Supt. Jerry Dannenberg strongly disagreed with such allegations. ‘School officials definitely were aware of what was going on, and they were dealing with it appropriately,’ Dannenberg said Wednesday. King was constitutionally entitled to wear makeup, earrings and high-heeled boots under long-established case law, Dannenberg said.”

McInerney may be tried as an adult. McInerney has been held in Juvenile Hall since the shooting, in lieu of $700,000 bail.

4/14/2008
LGBT advocates urge D.A. to charge Lawrence King murderer as minor. Prosecutors should not add to the tragedy

A coalition of 27 groups fighting for LGBT rights is urging Ventura County prosecutors to try 14-year-old Brandon McInerney in juvenile court, and not as an adult. McInerney has been charged as an adult in the February 12 murder of his E.O. Green Middle School classmate, 15-year-old Lawrence King. Students say McInerney targeted King because the victim was openly gay and because he wore women’s jewellery and makeup.

LGBT civil rights organizations, including Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Transgender Law Center, have delivered a short statement to Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten, calling on him to try McInerney as a juvenile.

“We are saddened and outraged by the murder of junior high school student Lawrence King,” the statement reads. “At the same time, we call on prosecutors not to compound this tragedy with another wrong “we call on them to treat the suspect as a juvenile, not as an adult.

“The facts in this matter seem clear: one boy killed another in a climate of intolerance and fear about sexual orientation and gender expression. The alleged perpetrator, who turned 14 years old less than three weeks before the shooting, should be held accountable for his actions. But we support the principles underlying our juvenile justice system that treat children differently than adults and provide greater hope and opportunity for rehabilitation. In addition, public safety is not served by treating children as adults. According to research released by the Centers for Disease Control in 2006, children transferred to adult court are more likely to re-offend than those committing similar offenses who remain in the juvenile justice system. California law does not require District Attorneys to prosecute 14 year-olds as adults, even in circumstances such as these, and we oppose them doing so. We are issuing this joint statement because we believe so strongly in principles of justice that protect all our young people and know that, even in the face of strong emotions, we should not abandon them. We refuse to let our sense of outrage blind us to the fact that the suspect is only 14 years old.

“Prosecuting the alleged perpetrator as an adult will not bring Lawrence King back nor will it make schools safer for LGBT youth. We must respond to this tragedy by strengthening our resolve to change the climate in schools, eliminate bigotry based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and hold schools responsible for protecting students against discrimination and physical harm.”

4/1/2008
A day of silence for Lawrence King. Students bring attention to lesbian and gay harassment in schools

U.S. students dedicated Friday – April 25 – to the memory of King during GLSEN’s (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) 12th annual National Day of Silence. Students observed a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender name-calling, bullying and harassment in middle schools, high schools and college campuses.

GLSEN’s 2005 National School Climate Survey found that 4 out of 5 of LGBT students report verbal, sexual or physical harassment at school and 29% report missing at least a day of school in the past month out of fear for their personal safety. Additionally, 64.3% of LGBT students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and 40.7 because of their gender expression.

2/23/2008
Lawrence King’s murder has created shock-waves throughout the U.S.

Support continues to grow online with mourners networking and reaching out to others. Over 200 messages have been left on the website created to remember him.

His murder is being prosecuted as a hate crime.

The 8th-grader was declared brain dead after being shot in the head – inside a classroom – and one of his classmates is behind bars. The alleged attacker will be charged with murder.

2/14/2008
The original report from the Los Angeles Times:

“Some students said the victim, whose name was not disclosed, sometimes wore makeup and feminine jewelry and had declared himself gay. They said he was frequently taunted by other boys and had been involved in an argument with the alleged shooter, an eighth-grader who also was not named, and others Monday. During the lunchtime argument, one of the boys shouted at Tuesday’s victim, ‘You better watch your back,’ said one student who witnessed the encounter.

Police said they had not determined a motive for the crime. Keith said investigators had also heard that the victim was gay but did not know whether that was true or whether it figured in the attack. They were sorting through several other possibilities as well, he said: ‘Which are true and which are rumor, we’re trying to figure out.'”

Article adapted by ProudParenting.com from original press release.
Images: RememberLarry.com; Associated Press

14 thoughts on “Lawyer blames school in shooting of gay California student. Officials failed to defuse tensions

  • February 20, 2008 at 10:13 pm
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    whether or not the kid was shot because he was gay (which its pretty aparent thats why he was shot) no 13 yr old SHOULD EVER HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL AND BE AFRAID THAT THEY ARE GOING TO BE KILLED WHILE THEY ARE LEARNING.

    Society is so messed up, no one should have to be be afraid of who they are. You have to wonder what kind of famalies these kids are coming from who go on these rampages or that need to go to the extent of killing someone else b/c they are diff just to make themselves feel better.

  • February 13, 2008 at 10:31 pm
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    you don’t even know wheter it was related to him being gay or not Eric! so stop being whatever it is you are wanting to be… it’s useless and it’s stupid.

    maybe hatred has nothing to do with it and it only depends of the fact that this world is full of morons (like the shooter) or idots that jump to conclusions.

    eitherway i’m sure the shooter and his friends will get what they deserve, even though justice is not really appropriate in those cases; because they are minors they will not get a death penalty or anything similar (or even close to that)… a real shame considering that they might have just killed someone and they might be free to go when they turn 21 (or 18?).

    eitherways whioch middle school this this occur in?

  • February 28, 2008 at 10:10 pm
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    I do understand the hurt,pain,confusion and anger that many feel and justly so. We must all choose to do what we can to stop violence as a vehicle to work out one’s anger. And yet reality is that there will always be someone who gets picked on bullied for whatever reason. This is a part of broken human nature and will continue to go on while man is around.

    But in saying that I know that truly the only way for change is not through the head but through the heart. And in this it would be great if in schools young men and women were able to speak out what they have felt or feeling growing up being LBBTQ. True stories of peoples lives fleshed out in the midst of others brings feeling and allows compassion to well up and that is where change can really take an affect.

  • February 22, 2008 at 2:30 pm
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    This is another shot that has been heard around the world!

    It is NOW time for our western civilised societies & communites, religious institutions & political institutions to realise ‘homophobia’ is simply not acceptable…it leads to the death of even children.

    It is NOW time for our educators to grasp the nettle of ‘sexuality’…and that young people, teenagers ARE aware of themselves, and some will express themselves couragously as did young Lawrence, its time…

    …and we should remenber there is another family too, also struggling with the loss of their son, the 14yr old child who pulled the trigger. There too is grief.

  • February 14, 2008 at 1:57 am
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    It is a sad state of affairs when it takes the shooting of a young person to draw attention to the hatred we face every day. How many of our children have to die before something is done about it?

  • February 13, 2008 at 8:02 pm
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    This is where hatred toward gays & lesbians ends, in the shooting of a boy!

    Wasn’t Matthew Shepard enough of a wake up call people?!

    I hope they prosecute the shooter as far as they can. I want to know where the shooter got the gun, and if it is his parents gun, then they should be prosecuted as accessories!

    Homosexuals are just like every other human being, except for the gender of who they love. The hate must end!

    Eric

  • February 14, 2008 at 5:24 pm
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    I feel so bad for the family and I hope something better can come of this horrible situation. I’ll be looking in the news for updates.

  • February 14, 2008 at 10:30 pm
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    No child deserves to be harrassed everyday of their life. Schools must take a strong stance on this issue. If educators are not willing to protect our children, then how can we trust them with our children?
    To kill a child because they may be different than other people is wrong. God does not discriminate!!!!
    But how do we expect our children to learn this lesson when so many adults continue their hated of people that are diffrent then them.
    It is time for hatred to stop.
    Rev. Lorraine Brock

  • February 27, 2008 at 10:27 pm
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    Join those in support of Safe Schools. Host a vigil in memory of Lawrence King in you city. Visit http://rememberinglawrence.com/ for more information.

  • February 16, 2008 at 12:41 am
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    It’s very apparent why this boy was shot. Maybe you should wake up “WTF”. Why would a student that taunted a gay student for being gay shoot him purposely? Because he got better grades???

  • April 2, 2008 at 2:20 pm
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    What happened to this brandon kid who killed lawrence???

  • February 14, 2009 at 1:18 am
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    im 15 (just) and Bi-sexual i think and thats why i am scared to come out because i am scared i will die for something that is not my fault

    i am pretty scared because i do act camp at school but all my freinds no that i am kinda camp

    but still there’s no need for me to be scared i know … But i am

    Matt

  • April 25, 2008 at 6:42 pm
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    i cant believe a child would hate a gay so much that they would kill them. just think of the life that kid had to live to be able to hate someone or something that bad. i happen to be bi and i still do go to high school and i get made fun of every day me and my girlfriend both do but never would any of these people kill us becuase we r who we r and no one can change that. i hope that boy get whats comeing to him.

  • July 21, 2009 at 7:23 pm
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    ok how the hell can it be because he was gay i am 14 years old and i am gay i am still alive if it was for him being gay then that is fucked up to the fullest point being gay is not something that picks u its u pick it or u were born gay i am a person that was born gay i am not afraid to addmit that i like my sexual orientation if someone does not like it well they can got to fucking hell yeah sometimes i am scared although life is life u can not make the world work in ur benifit i am a very depressed gay teen ager i have tried to cumit suicide three times i am on medication for adhd and soon bipolore and depression i feel real sorry for the family that lost there son but like i said he was gay big woop maybe they killed him for being gay and maybe someone that was mentally chalanged killed him do u know him or what maybe he partied and got drunk or smoked he could have minipulated that kid that killed him like he could have had sex with him when they were drunk or high on wat ever and the kid was being black mailed what could he do just sit back and take it or kill him self what would u like to happen to him he could have been like me and be highly depressed did u ever think of that yes i am still depressed yeah i cut so i think of suicide so i have tried to cumit suicide but no i am still here ppl need to like ppl for who they are not for who they like or what they do its not everyones choice to be gay i was born gay and i am happy about it and i do not want to be any other way so i get made fun of big fucking woop all of us gay ppl are the same so we like men and having sex with them big woop what do u think the world could come to all gay ppl having to be straight cause it would be against the law or will all the gay ppl be wiped off the face of the earth fuck no gay ppl like me can speek there mind and have a great life the ppl that hate us gay ppl can go to hell or learn to fucking live with it and no matter what we should all be treated the same so if u have a problem with it well go to hell or deel with it or keep ur fucking fat ass mouth shut about it ok ppl

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