Let's see, a Nazi-obsessed and troubled 14-year-old boy gets a gun, takes it to school, and shoots a femmy kid. Do you get stuck at the "femmy"? Do you think that if that was removed from the equation everything would be alright? Do you think that's where the blame should be placed? Because I'd say "no," but I'm beginning to think that I'm just crazy.
The parents of Larry King are suing the school district because they didn't enforce the dress code on their son. You know, if he didn't wear heels he'd still be alive, forget the fact that he didn't pull the trigger:
The King family is suing the Oxnard school district claiming its failure to enforce the dress code led to King's death. King reportedly wore feminine clothing and makeup to school.
The suit seeks unspecified damages.
In a notice of claim, Dawn and Gregory King allege that administrators and staff at the school knew their son had "unique vulnerabilities" and was subject to abuse because of his sexuality.
Larry was pulled out of his parents' home because of child abuse (his father denies it), so I'm wondering where his father's place to talk is. I'm also wondering wondering why they decided not to sue whoever gave Brendan McInerney the gun he used, or the school for not promoting tolerance and for letting the bullying get out of control (maybe that's included as well but wasn't mentioned in the 365Gay article).
But that's besides the point. The AP, The Advocate, Newsweek, and McIrnerney's defense attorney have all decided that Larry's behavior caused his death, so why shouldn't his parents fall in line? It's apparently a lot easier to get people to agree that his flaming ways caused his own death than to start with the assumption that he had the right to act the way he did and that other people's negative reactions to his gender and sexuality are their own fucking problems.
Are we living in a culture that's so obsessed with gender conformity that the best thing it can muster is "Of course nothing can justify murder, but he did wear make-up to school"? Is our mainstream discourse so messed up that being obsessed with Nazis isn't considered inappropriate, but spending a Target gift card on heels is a perfectly good reason to kill someone?
I understand that his murder was the result of many, complex factors. It wasn't one thing or the other that caused it, and we don't know everything about this situation. There are Nazi-obsessed youth who don't shoot kids at school. Kids bring guns to school for many reasons. Schools can't control everything that goes on in their halls, as much as we want them to. Bullying can be a reaction to many experiences.
But why is Larry getting painted to be the culprit here when the victims of any other school shooting would never be blamed the way he has been?
And now the parents are buying into it. For most people, that's it. That's the final sign that the issue is, in fact, Larry's actions. Anyone who's against teens defining for themselves their own gendered appearances will be using this as ammunition. They're the parents! If a parent has a problem with his or her kid being queer, then obviously the kid has stepped over the line!
The lesson from all this is that anyone who thinks that violence against queer people is universally condemned or isn't a threat is full of shit. We need to be working towards solutions and ignoring those on the Religious Right who say that we don't need any protections because everyone already loves queer people, or because we have a lot of money, or because it's really them who's the persecuted minority. This kid got killed and everyone, even his parents, is obsessed with his what shoes he wore.
For some reason I have the nagging feeling that this is exactly what the Religious Right wants.
Update: The Ventura County Star has more on the specifics:
In the claims, the Kings say school and county staff members failed to enforce the middle school's dress code.
That put the feminine-dressing King at particular risk at a time when staff members knew he had "unique vulnerabilities" and was "susceptible to abuse" because of his perceived sexual orientation, the claim says.
The family says educators knew the boy was at risk because he had been subjected to death threats at Hathaway School, an elementary campus he attended in Oxnard.
King had told friends he was gay, and he wore makeup, jewelry and high-heeled boots with his school uniform -- something Dannenberg said the teen had the freedom to do under his First Amendment rights.
Assistant Principal Joy Epstein, the only person named in the complaint, is accused of encouraging the boy to wear "women's clothing, shoes and makeup." She created an environment of "perceived safety" for King when "in fact she could not and did not protect Larry from the threats and ultimate death," the claim says.
Officials expect the claim to fail. It was filed almost on the deadline, the school didn't have a dress-code that prevented Larry from dressing the way he did, and it was the job of his parents (in this case, the county) educate him about the safety issues here.
The only person names in the suit is Joy Epstein, the lesbian vice principal who Newsweek all but accused of being a rabid activist more concerned with the homosexual agenda than the welfare of the students because she had the audacity to say Larry had a right to be the way he was. (Never mind that one straight teacher agreed and went so far as to buy Larry a dress. It's the lesbian's fault.)