Lawrence King was a 15-year-old 8th grader from California, who was shot and killed by another student. This is being called an anti-gay hate crime.
The accused killer, Brandon McInerney, was a 14-year-old classmate. Fellow students say he was upset that Lawrence was openly gay and didn't conform to gender expectations.
14-year-old Brandon McInerney, has currently been charged with murder as an adult.
However, a coalition of 27 groups fighting for GLBT rights has requested that the Ventura County Prosecutor in charge of the case not do so.
Here's their reasoning:
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.
This horrifying story is such a painful reminder that there need to be greater protections for GLBT students.
According to a GLSEN survey:
"Over a third (37.8%) of students experienced physical harassment at school on the basis of sexual orientation and more than a quarter (26.1%) on the basis of their gender expression. Nearly one-fifth (17.6%) of students had been physically assaulted because of their sexual orientation and over a tenth (11.8%) because of their gender expression."
The same survey found that the majority of the time, teachers and administrators fail to intervene when GLBT students are bullied.
Plenty of gay teens suffer violence for being who they are. Clearly there is much more to be done in order to prevent another tragedy like this one.
You can get some suggestions for action on the Remembering Lawrence MySpace page.