Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Teen’s Murder Inspired Federal Student Non-Discrimination Act

Seattle students celebrate Pride, photo by jglsongs

Washington, DC – The execution-style murder of a 15-year-old gay boy inspired an openly gay Congressman to author the Student Non-Discrimination Act.  Lawrence “Larry” Fobes King was shot twice in the back of the head two years ago by a fellow computer class student, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney at E.O. Green Middle School in Oxnard, California.  Now, even before McInerney stands trial for murdering his gender non-conforming classmate, Congress will consider the proposed law which for the first time would make it unlawful throughout the country for a any school receiving federal aid to discriminate against a person because of a perception that the individual is gay or lesbian.  As VCStar.com reports, “Under the proposed law, known as the Student Non-Discrimination Act, gay and lesbian students in public schools could not be excluded from participating in or be subject to discrimination under any educational program that receives federal assistance. Discrimination would include harassment, which is defined as acts of ‘verbal, nonverbal or physical aggression,’ as well as intimidation or hostility based upon a student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation.”  Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), the author and primary sponsor of the bill said that King’s death was foremost in his mind as he framed this legislation and promoted it among his colleagues. “I absolutely had Larry King in mind and other kids like him,” he told reporters.  In an interview with DCAgenda.com, Polis said the legislation would give schools across the country tools to fight against discrimination that includes “everything from exclusion from prom, to banning clubs, to lack of actions addressing bullying situations.” Polis continued, “Gays and lesbians across the country face discrimination and frequently institutionalized discrimination in many school districts, and giving them a federal remedy, just as girls do and minorities, will help address this.”  The bill, H.R. 4530, has good support in Congress, with 65 co-sponsors including Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts).  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) is reviewing the legislation which Polis introduced in late January 2010.  Nine out of ten LGBT students in middle and secondary schools throughout the nation report that they have been harassed because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, and 61 per cent of them say they feel unsafe in their schools because of attitudes about their sexuality, according to GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.  According to his school friends, Larry King suffered repeated harassment because of his feminine self-presentation.  He sometimes wore jewelry and dressed in high heels and feminine apparel.  Students have confirmed that he had tense exchanges with McInerney in the weeks before the fatal shooting.  Rep. Lois Capps (D-California), one of the bill’s co-sponsors and the Congresswoman representing Oxnard where King was murdered, told the VC Star, “Larry’s murder was particularly painful because it happened at his school, a place that should have been a sacred space where he could grow and learn in a safe and supportive environment.”  School officials in Oxnard contend they did nothing wrong, so the proposed law would not affect them.  Their critics, among them LGBT activists in Southern California, counter that nothing substantive has been done to address the underlying hatred that permitted one of their students to act out his phobia on another, to the point of murder.  McInerney, who is to be tried as an adult because of indications of pre-meditation of the crime, has pleaded not guilty to murder and hate crimes charges in the case.

February 20, 2010 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, Bullying in schools, California, Colorado, gay teens, gun violence, harassment, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Legislation, Lesbian women, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, School and church shootings, Social Justice Advocacy, transgender persons, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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