NEW YORK, July 14, 2010 – As jury selection for the murder trial of Lawrence “Larry” King’s attacker, Brandon McInerney, is set to begin today in Ventura County, Calif., GLSEN is deeply saddened by the loss of two young lives to homophobia.
McInerney allegedly murdered King at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard on Feb. 12, 2008 because of King’s sexual orientation and gender expression. The then-14-year-old 8th grader shot his 15-year-old classmate in the head in the school’s computer lab.
The trial was postponed two months ago, and defense attorneys are expected to ask for another delay today.
“The start of Brandon McInerney’s trial is simply the next stage of the on-going tragedy of Larry King’s murder,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said. “Whatever happens in this trial, two young lives have been lost to homophobia. One young person is dead, and another gave up his future by murdering a classmate so no one would say he was gay.
“We cannot allow anti-LGBT bias to continue to destroy young lives. While it is extremely rare for such torment to rise to the level of murder, the anti-LGBT bullying that Larry experienced before his murder plays out repeatedly every day in countless hallways and classrooms across America. And yet little is done to address this pervasive problem.”
GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey found that nearly 9 out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students (86.2 percent) said they experienced verbal harassment at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation, almost half (44.1%) said they experienced physical harassment and nearly a quarter (22.1%) said they had been physically assaulted.
The problem is even more severe in middle school. A GLSEN research brief based on the 2007 NSCS found that 91% of LGBT middle school students experienced verbal harassment in the past year because of their sexual orientation, 59% experienced physical harassment and 39% had been assaulted.
GLSEN is calling on Congress to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act, a bill introduced in the House by Rep. Linda Sanchez with 115 bipartisan cosponsors that would require schools that receive federal funding to implement an enumerated anti-bullying policy that includes protections based on characteristics of students most often targeted for bullying, such as race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN’s research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org.