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Openly gay student declared brain dead after being shot by classmate

Lawrence King, a 15-year-old at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California was shot in the head and back and lies in a hospital, declared brain-dead, with his body now kept alive by life support, so that his organs being preserved to donate to save another life. The tragedy is that King was likely targeted because of his gender non-conformity.

King was said to have sometimes worn makeup and feminine jewelry. Said classmate Michael Sweeney, “He would come to school in high-heeled boots, makeup, jewelry and painted nails — the whole thing. That was freaking the guys out.”

Fellow students also tell the Los Angeles Times that King was harassed on a regular basis. He had been involved in an argument with a group of boys that included his alleged shooter, who is said by a witness to have specifically threatened him, on Monday.

“He didn’t deserve it,” said friend and confidant Mariah Thompson. “I would always tell him, ‘Don’t let them get to you.'”

The suspect, who has not been identified by authorities, fled the scene but was quickly apprehended in neighboring Port Hueneme.

And the fundies say there is no need for measures to protect LGBT students from harassment and violence. From the Gay-Straight Alliance Network:

The shooting has been characterized as a “personal” attack and “bad blood” between two students, but advocates caution the violence at the Oxnard junior high is more aptly characterized as a tragic example of widespread homophobia in our schools.  Every day young people are subject to bullying or harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

While there were reports of the victim receiving support at school due to the bullying he endured, no other bullying prevention efforts have been reported. This terrible event sheds light on the need to provide better education for all students about respect for diversity and differences.

“With young people coming out at younger ages, our schools – especially our junior highs and middle schools – need to be proactive about teaching respect for diversity based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Carolyn Laub, executive director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network.  “The tragic death of Lawrence King is a wake-up call for our schools to better protect students from harassment at school.  As a society, we can prevent this kind of violence from happening.”

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Pam Spaulding

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