Bullying | California | Crime | Lawrence King | News

U.S. Reacts with Anger, Sorrow, Action to Lawrence King Murder

A bunch of updates on the Lawrence King shooting for you here. Hundreds of parents asking for answers attended a meeting at an Oxnard, California campus regarding the shooting last week of 15-year-old Lawrence King, shot in the back of the head in a classroom by a fellow student, allegedly because he was gay:

King"In orderly fashion, one parent after another asked for metal detectors on campus, more programs dealing with bullying and for stricter enforcement of the district's uniform policy. 'There were probably weeks of this student being subjected to harassment,' said Joe Gonzales, parent of a student at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, where King was killed Feb. 12. 'We need to know what was done, or not done, so we can prevent something like this from happening again instead of reacting to it.' Details about events the days before the shooting also trickled out as a panel that included school officials, mental health counselors and Oxnard Police Chief John Crombach responded to questions. One parent said her daughter told her that several students exchanged text messages the day before the shooting that talked about what the suspect planned to do. Crombach acknowledged that several students told police they heard about 'comments, statements and threats' that were made but that they didn't take the chatter seriously and that there was no evidence that it was reported to school officials. King's classmates said he had proclaimed himself gay in recent weeks and began wearing feminine accessories with his school uniform. The boy endured frequent taunting but appeared to be holding his own, students said, refusing to change his appearance."

One of three 911 tapes has been released.

EngAssemblyman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park), chairman of the Assembly Select Committee on Hate Crimes, this week announced plans, in response to the King shooting, to introduce a bill expanding diversity education in California schools: "'My bill is focusing on [hate crime] prevention,' Eng said after a news conference at his El Monte district office. 'We already have bills on the books about proper punishment; mine will focus on dealing with hatred in a school setting.' Eng hopes to create a pilot program by allocating up to $150,000 to establish a diversity and sensitivity curriculum at a few school districts. The pilot program would serve as a model to be used to develop lesson plans statewide."

Sara Whitman notes in the Huffington Post: "In my LGBT community, we argue about who is more pro LGBT rights, Obama or Clinton. It's been days since Lawrence King was shot dead. Neither candidate has issued a statement or said a word. The national media has done a complete pass on the story. Both candidates make me sick...Don't worry. I get the message, loud and clear. Just one more dead faggot."

MemorialFollowing the King shooting, Time magazine published this classless story on King and bullying in public schools that sounds as though it was written by some fundie from Focus on the Family. It claims that gay groups are exaggerating the amount of bullying made against kids because of their sexual orientation in order to make the situation sound more dire and drum up the need for legislation.

Quote: "Still, it's hard to look at the photo of King's fragile little face and not want to do something."

Read it and fume.

The L.A. Times ntoes that at least a dozen vigils and memorials are scheduled around the country for King this week. you can find a list of them at GLSEN. The page where they are listed is currently down, but it may be up later.

There's one taking place in West Hollywood tonight at 7 pm. There's also one on Friday in Kansas City.

Additionally, here is Lawrence King's memorial MySpace page.

For all our coverage of the Lawrence King murder, click here.

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  1. FINALLY, people seem to be addressing the cause and not just the symptom. There seems to be, at least at the moment, a focus on how to prevent such tragedies rather than how to punish after the fact.

    I can only hope that the focused discussion continues and spreads across the country.

    It's just a shame that it takes the death of a child to wake people up.

    Posted by: Zeke | Feb 20, 2008 9:35:38 AM

  2. Thanks for keeping this story in front of us. Shame on many people.

    Posted by: Eddie | Feb 20, 2008 9:44:32 AM

  3. I agree with Sara Whitman.

    This election is going to be nasty for us. The Dems will do anything not to lose this time around even if it means throwing the gays under the bus when the Republicans start up the rhetoric.

    The Democrats don't have to care about the gays, what other party do we have left to go to?

    I'm going to start looking for some closet space.

    Posted by: NotForYou | Feb 20, 2008 9:56:51 AM

  4. Does it disturb anyone else that the only 911 tape police released was one where the caller kept repeating that the kid had shot himself?

    Posted by: sparks | Feb 20, 2008 9:57:59 AM

  5. I've written about Lawrence King for the "L.A. Weekly" in a piece recalling bout of gay bashing I was on the receiving end of 46 years ago when I was 15. It should be in this Thursday's edition.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Feb 20, 2008 10:00:47 AM

  6. A poem for Larry:


    Posted by: Christopher | Feb 20, 2008 10:02:37 AM

  7. I'm also outraged by the Time article: "only 18% of gay and transgender students said they had been assaulted in 2005 because of their sexual orientation~"

    ONLY 18% have been assaulted? ONLY?? You know if a study showed that 1 out of 5 girls had been beaten or raped by the time they exited high school, there would be outrage.

    That article is shameful and I'm writing a letter to the editor. I encourage others to do the same.

    Posted by: sparks | Feb 20, 2008 10:04:48 AM

  8. To use the TIME mag author's favorite word:

    If ONLY he had a brain, and a heart, the author would never have written such a slanted, despicable piece of trash.

    I am sick to my stomach.

    Posted by: JT | Feb 20, 2008 10:15:55 AM

  9. Gun control is a huge issue here. Without gun control there will continue to be a new school shooting every month in the U.S. Guns serve no purpose in this country. Continued prayers for the King family.

    Posted by: davey | Feb 20, 2008 10:21:58 AM

  10. In minimizing the risks faced by LGBT students each and every day in America’s schools, John Cloud betrays either a lack of understanding of the data or a misreading of it when he accuses the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force of exaggerating the degree to which gay kids suffer in school.

    As research by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) makes clear, LGBT kids are far less likely to feel safe or very safe in school than their heterosexual counterparts (78% versus 93%), and almost one-fifth (18%) of those surveyed had been physically assaulted over the previous year.

    What is more, Mr. Cloud mischaracterizes a statistic regarding the reporting of harassment or assault and suggests that much of it wasn’t significant enough to report. In fact, fewer than half of the students who did report incident(s) of harassment or assault felt that it made any difference. And among those who did not report being victims of harassment or assault fully 50% said that it was because they expected nothing would be done about it or that they personally would suffer repercussions.

    On the heels of a premeditated murder of a vulnerable child taunted for being openly gay, John Cloud seems bent on whitewashing the harsh realities of a broad range of LGBT kids in our schools. I can’t imagine such gross indifference to a child being murdered after having been taunted for being Jewish, or Latino, or heterosexual. Cloud’s lack of outrage builds a strong case for exactly what he argues against – increased penalties for a range of crimes that the state and the wider culture have long dismissed as insignificant.

    Jaime M. Grant, Ph.D.
    Policy Institute Director
    National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

    Posted by: Dr. Jaime Grant | Feb 20, 2008 10:25:50 AM

  11. Fuming indeed! I am all but speechless but I have written to TIME and to the author to express my outrage. What a despicable article. Perhaps some good will come out of this tragedy. Parents demanding answers is a good first step. The MSM blackout is an abomination. Let your voice be heard: demand answers and action. Rest in peace, sweet angel--a peace the bigots denied you here on earth. Your courageous life and untimely death shall inspire us.

    Posted by: rudy | Feb 20, 2008 10:30:20 AM

  12. i'm sorry, but i just finished the Time article...

    did they honestly try to analogously link taunting because of body type to the execution of a little boy because he's gay?

    also, i'm so glad the author didn't have the insight to examine that a lot of homophobia is the result of sexism, anyway.

    way to go. dumbing down of america shouldn't only be attributed to jessica simpson. what happened to analysis?

    Posted by: ian | Feb 20, 2008 10:48:07 AM

  13. "We may never know the real motivations for King's murder"?

    Right. And I suppose we'll never know why victims of lynchings were killed, either. Maybe because they were overweight, not because they were black? Or why all those people died in the Holocaust -- maybe it was a coincidence they were Jewish?

    I'm amazed this passes for journalism. Look at how many times the article had to be corrected! And it's still hideous.

    Cloud's conclusion: we should mourn, not legislate. Just accept and be good victims, have a good cry, but not DO anything, god forbid!

    Posted by: Kevinvt | Feb 20, 2008 11:03:20 AM

  14. that time article is a piece of filth and made me sick, i wonder if that douche cloud would change his tune should he ever be on the receiving end of a gay bashing but let us hope that lawrence did not die in vain and steps will be taken to provide the necessary legislation to protect children everywhere and to prevent this from happening again.

    Posted by: the queen | Feb 20, 2008 11:04:02 AM

  15. John Cloud, the author of that repulsive article, also wrote Time's famously fawning cover story on Ann Coulter.

    Posted by: bcarter3 | Feb 20, 2008 11:10:53 AM

  16. Like many others, I was sickened by the Time piece. Cloud quickly skips past King's murder (by a "sweet-faced boy") to say how things are really quite peachy for LGBT youth. (He spins statistics to do this; look closely, they're not really so peachy.) Then he puts forth his fundamental misunderstanding of hate crimes legislation. (One more time, it's not about criminalizing people's thoughts!) Then he winds up by saying we may never know the real motivations for King's murder. What?! The motivations seem quite clear to everyone but him.

    Yes, you'd think such a piece had been written by Focus on the Family when in fact it was written by a gay man, albeit one who did a rosy portrait of nutcase Ann Coulter for Time. So I guess it shouldn't be too surprising . . .

    Posted by: Ernie | Feb 20, 2008 11:22:02 AM

  17. That Time would even publish such a despicable and dishonest piece of tripe is BEYOND me!!

    So, it's no big f*cking deal, eh? Perhaps, instead of relying on lame "statistics" the "reporter" should have engaged some REAL investigative instincts and interviewed administrators from The Harvey Milk School, who would have surely enlightened him on the need for such schools, as most of the students who attend Milk were severely challenged in their previous schools.

    They simply cannot believe that such a low percentage of LBGT youth are not being being harassed in the public school system. Especially, in suburban or rural areas, one of which I assume applies to the town of Oxnard.

    That article has made me absolutely furious! Did Rupert Murdock purchase Time/Warner unbeknownst to me?

    Letters to the editor are most def in order.

    Posted by: banjiboi | Feb 20, 2008 11:31:13 AM

  18. The Time magazine article is the most dispicable thing I've read ANYWHERE in a long time; especially considering its timing.

    And what about those GLSEN survey results? Does anyone else find their results to be completely unbelievable? When they claim that 66% of gay and trans kids say they have heard homophobic remarks; ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS? On what planet do these kids live?

    And when they talk about a survey of gay and trans kids in school wouldn't it be important to note that by "gay and trans" they mean "out gay and trans" which is completely different thing alltogether. It seems pretty clear to any fool that the VAST MAJORITY of gay and trans kids in primary school are not OUT.

    I strongly encourage everyone to contact Time magazine and challenge this right-wing fundamentalist, Peter Labarbara/Concerned "Women" for America-styled propaganda peice. I can't believe that in 2008 a respected news magazine would print such bigoted propaganda. I also can't believe that a human being could be so f'n heartless and soul-less to write such a peice in response to such a tragedy; even as the victim was being kept alive on life support so that his organs could be harvested to save other people's lives.

    What a complete and total douche bag!

    Posted by: Zeke | Feb 20, 2008 11:37:21 AM

  19. I'm so over this dead kid story already. Please more posts on Anderson Cooper and Brady Quinn!


    Posted by: JohnInManhattan | Feb 20, 2008 11:37:40 AM

  20. I’m also appalled at John Cloud’s article in Time. And apparently he’s Gay. http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1627585,00.html?xid=rss-business

    Posted by: 1♥ | Feb 20, 2008 11:48:18 AM

  21. Cloud also wrote an article for Time recently on gay relationships that includes the following sentence:

    "In a 2004 paper, psychology professor Lawrence Kurdek of Wright State University in Ohio reported that over a 12-year period, 21% of gay and lesbian couples broke up; only 14% of married straight couples did." So Kurdek, who admittedly seems pro-gay relationships, compared unMARRIED gays to MARRIED straights? Anyone who a basic understanding of statistics knows that you should only compared like with like - either married with unmarried or gay with straight. You can't vary two important criteria and still compare the groups. Of course married couples will stay together longer because it is more difficult for them to break up.

    Cloud does a similar thing here: "only 18% of gay and transgender students said they had been assaulted in 2005 because of their sexual orientation. (By comparison, 18.2% of male students and 8.8% of female students reported being in a physical fight at school in the last year.). There is no comparison to being assaulted and partaking in a "physical fight" (whatever that is).

    Posted by: EireKev | Feb 20, 2008 12:04:35 PM

  22. Shame on you Andy for a grossly misleadng characterization of John Cloud's piece at time.com. It is admittedly contrarian and provocative, but it is hardly the hate speech you claim it to be.

    And I dearly wish that all of you now heeding Andy's rallying cry and baying for John Cloud's head on a spike would calm down for a minute and take a deep breath. Go back and read some of what you've written. The only fundie-esque rants I'm reading are from these comments.

    First, if you look at the totality of his wrting, I think you'll see evidence that John Cloud is a thoughtful and sensitive writer, and, in my opinion, his platform in our most-read newsweekly and its website is good for gays and our visibility.

    I should note before I mount any further defence that Cloud's piece has been amended to note that GLSEN does not concur with his interpretation of their data. As well, a couple factual inaccuracies in Cloud's data references have been corrected. These have helped to clarify some what remains an overall coherent and reasonable if controversial argument.

    The corrections notwithstanding, several of you (with assistance from Andy) have wildly mischaracterized both the overall argument and specific elements of Cloud's piece on the horror that befell Lawrence King. Admittedly, I don't think that this was Cloud's most artfully argued piece ever, and it needed to be because he is taking a contrarian, "let's slow down here a minute" position that he doesn't articulate nearly carefully enough.

    But to be clear, he never said "it's no big f-----g deal" (Banjiboi). Nor (Ernie) did he say things "are really quite peachy for LGBT youth." And (Ian) he didn't "try to analogously link taunting because of body type to the execution of a little boy because he's gay." He did none of those things implicitly or explicitly.

    What he did try to do is put the current conditions for LGBT youth in our schools into some perspective and make the point that we are seeing substanial progress from a time, not at all long ago, when a boy in middle school who openly self-identified as gay and wore makeup and nail polish likely wouldn't have made it through the first day of school without suffering violence. (And thank God for admittedly small favors that THAT has changed.)

    To be clear, I am horrified by what happened to Lawrence King, God rest his soul. But the point which Cloud didn't make and needs to be made is that this case is an utterly outrageous extreme and is not the lens through which the condition of LGBT youth in our schools in 2008 needs to be viewed.

    Of course the fact that ANY feel threatened in school in virtue of their sexuality is unacceptable. But Cloud's point is that huge numbers of kids are taunted and harrassed in school every day for lots of reasons, e.g., being fat, and sexual orientation is very likely not the leading one. That was the point Eirekev of comparing the 18% of lesbian and gay kids who claim to have been assaulted in school in 2005 with the numbers of all males (18.2%) and females (8.8%) who claim to have been in a physcal fight in school within the preceding year.

    (And by the way, Eirekev, did you even bother to read and understand Cloud's aricle on gay relationships that you quote? It's a thoughtful and very personal piece in which he has no agenda of the sort you impute to him in your post, which takes his reference to the Kurdek research completely out of context. And, uh, by the way, the reason Professor Kurdek, a highly-regarded social science researcher, compared unmarried gay couples to married straight couples, is that until three years ago (and still and only in Massachusetts) there's been no such thing in this country as "married gay couples" (to say nothing of gay couples who have been married for decades).

    There is an unfortunate tendency in the gay community--and it's amply in evidence here on this site, which I love and read every day but that doesn't mean I can't find fault with it--to blame, judge, criticize, castigate and vilify based on snap judgment, evidently little real undertanding of issues and a kind of casuistical or dialectic (look 'em up) morality.

    Problem is, if this is how we treat John Cloud, one of our own, who is a thoughtful writer with a mainstream audience on whom he no doubt has positive impact as a critical-minded and coincidentally gay journalist, then what example are we setting for reason and dispassion in discussing the difficult social issues that lie at the nexis of gay people's increasing acceptance and welcome as open and respected members of society?

    Posted by: Hermes in DC | Feb 20, 2008 1:08:36 PM

  23. Well said, Hermes! Well said.

    Posted by: Quakerjono | Feb 20, 2008 1:19:57 PM

  24. TIME MAGAZINE!! Were the hell is our gay media watchdog? GLAAD. GLAAD!!
    Oh that's right they are busy raising MONEY coast to coast with their worthless awards.

    GLAAD sucks it again.

    Posted by: MCnNYC | Feb 20, 2008 1:28:14 PM

  25. Sorry Hermes and Quakerjono, but the fault does not lie with the reading comprehension abilities of Towleroadies but with the vile article penned by your alleged paragon of dispassionate journalism. I read the article and I stand by my opinion (and, for what it is worth, I teach legal research, writing, and advocacy) that Mr. Cloud's article is despicable on many levels. It is precisely because he is perceived to be "[A] thoughtful writer with a mainstream audience on whom he has [an] impact" that we must not let this personal opinion masquerading as objective reporting go unchallenged. I am even more offended that he is a gay journalist because the majority will make the common fallacy of ascribing the opinion of one member of a minority group to all members. I most emphatically do not agree with Cloud's facile "conclusions" arrived at by misconstruing data and I told him and his editor so.

    I welcome a civil debate about personal rights and responsibilities of my gay brethren but will not tolerate unsupported written attacks, especially from someone who is a member of my "family". We have enough enemies in the bigots who base their opinions on personal belief, "religious" or otherwise, to let such attacks remain in the marketplace of ideas without countering the ignorant assumptions. The best writing is informed by passion, clarity, and accuracy. Cloud's dismissive, and yet damaging, drivel fails on all accounts.

    Posted by: rudy | Feb 20, 2008 1:46:36 PM

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