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Sexual Inadequacy: Lawrence King

It is has been three years since Brandon McInerney took a handgun to school and shot his classmate Lawrence King in Oxnard, California and the resulting trial is now underway. Predictably, the defense is attempting to shift most of the blame to King himself, claiming that McInerney was driven to kill by King's taunting and flirtatious behavior.

On the one hand we have allegations that King was sexually harassing his male classmates in ways that crossed boundaries and should have been addressed immediately. But on the other, every time these issues are discussed, they are conflated with his choice of dress and his wearing of makeup, as if his gender presentation was inseparable from his alleged questionable behavior. Former teachers characterize his gender presentation as being ostentatious and disruptive—he "paraded" down the hallway in clothing he felt appropriately gendered in, his education plan recommended he not draw "special attention" to himself. Administrators claim they were walking a tightrope, trying not to infringe on King's civil rights and attempting to keep the peace.

I find myself baffled at this, and can only see it as a symptom of an inability to extricate acceptance of a person's sexuality from a condemnation of their social-sexual behavior. It would have been perfectly fine to address King's behavior while making it clear that he still had space to explore his own identity and gender. A part of me is skeptical of the extent of King's alleged harassment—having been a young gay man in middle school, I know how quick boys that age are to attribute any level of interaction as evidence that another boy is interested in them or has a crush on them. King is also not here to defend himself and thus cannot rebut these accusations made by his former classmates and teachers. But the school failed him and his classmates by not investigating the claims at the time they were made. This tragedy highlights the need for all students, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, to be educated about sexual harassment, and for teachers especially to be trained in how to protect the rights and safety of all students, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Previously: Body Shame and Sexy Fat, Ambiguously Gay Wizards

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Comments

4 comments have been made. Post a comment.

This is so frustrating!! I'm

This is so frustrating!! I'm so sick of hearing how gay people should stop "flaunting their homosexuality!" I'd like to tell plenty of the people out at bars on the weekends to stop flaunting their heterosexuality!! Or just their sexuality period. You're a man, got it, don't need you to talk about "pussy" or how much you "got" last night to get the point across. Honestly, it's really disheartening to see professional adults resorting to this kind of heterosexism, especially when it affects both the life and the memory of a young kid. I don't know anything about this case, most of us will never know the extent of Lawrence King's sexual harassment, and it is certainly possible that he made comments, gestures, or physical contact that made other boys uncomfortable. But his clothing style and choices to wear makeup should not be in any way tied to harassment. If the boys were made uncomfortable by homophobia and a fear of someone's disregard for conformity, that's their problem. And let's be honest, even if McInerney was sexually harassed, that can in no way excuse a murder. I know schools don't always deal with situations like harassment well, if at all, but this is not a defense to murder. It's just not.

Sexist Anti-Gay Bullshit

Before even delving into the details of who said what when and what adults and/or school officials were involved I think we need to look at the fact that both parties are male and the way gay men are seen as nefarious and inclined to sexual harassment. Had a female student received the same comments that the male student(s) alleged they received from a male student, she would be unlikely to report them do to peer pressure. Also, if she did report them it would be chalked up to a "boys will be boys" middle school flirtation/teasing. She would not be respected for coming forth, she would most likely be labeled a prude by her peers and teased relentlessly. She would be told to take a joke-or worse a compliment, and absolutely no one would come to her defense had she shot and killed the male classmate. This entire situation is a reflection of the way sexism and anti-gay belief permeate our society at such an early and formative level. Though it is a bit off topic-I respect the principal for standing up for the young man's right to express himself. Civil liberties are one of the many corner stones of a free-er society, and after all- the difference between tennis shoes and spiked heels doesn't equate to sexual harassment or murder.

Reading the article, I was

Reading the article, I was struck by how McInery's response to King's dress and behavior was treated as either understandable, inevitable, or justifiable by the writer and especially by many of the teachers.

"It wasn't just that King, 15, had begun wearing makeup and women's spiked-heeled boots, witnesses testified. It was that he seemed to relish making the boys squirm at his newly feminized appearance and was taunting them with comments like 'I know you want me.'"
Then:
"But that [administrative assistance] didn't happen, Ekman and others testified. After days of escalating tensions between King and McInerney, McInerney, then 14, brought a handgun to the Oxnard school on Feb. 12, 2008, and shot King twice in the back of the head. King died two days later."

It makes you wonder what the "escalating tensions" were. Regardless of how much King "taunted" the boy, McInery was the one who FUCKING SHOT HIM. The degree of homophobia that the boy must be holding on to is staggering.

The whole situation just sounds like an inverted "bullied to death" story.

Why Not?

One way to keep those shameless people away from the helpless victims. No one can undo the damage of being sexually harassed, right? That's why this post must become a warning for them. But you can't put the law on your hands. It's something like learning the basic self-defense to protect yourself.