by Meghan M '11

Lawrence, 15, Killed for Being Gay

On the morning of February 12, 15 year old Lawrence King of Oxnard, California, was shot to death. This statement probably doesn’t mean anything to you, but it means more than words can describe to the people of the community he once lived in. Oxnard, known as a “laid-back beach community” in California, was exposed as something much less than laid-back the morning that Lawrence was shot. As he sat in the computer lab as per usual at his local junior high, E.O. Green Junior High School, with 24 other students, Brandon McIerney, 14, walked in, shot Lawrence in the head, and ran. It wasn’t long before the police caught him a few blocks away, and he is now being held in a juvenile facility in Venura County.
Brandon is being charged with gun possession, and as an adult who performed a planned hate crime. Maeve Fox, a senior deputy district attorney, would not reveal why the authorities added hate crime to the charge, but the people of Oxnard don’t need to hear it from her to know why. A few weeks prior to his death, Lawrence publicly came out about his homosexuality, and had to endure teasing and harassment from a group of students at his school, including McIerney, his murderer. He began wearing lipstick, mascara, and jewelry to school, causing the group of students to tease him “because he was different,” says Marissa Moreno, who is also in the 8th grade. “But he wasn’t afraid to show himself.” More often than not, Lawrence could be seen wearing his favorite pair of high-heeled boots.
Said Melissa Castillo, 13, of the last time she saw Lawrence, “He was walking through the lunch room, wearing these awesome boots. I ran over to him and said, ‘Your boots are so cute!’ He was like, ‘Yeah, I know’.”
Continuing her impersonation of Lawrence that day, she said, “‘If you want cute boots,’” Lawrence said of his $30 boots, “‘you have to buy the expensive kind.’”
“So, for Lawrence,” said Melissa, “we have to go get the expensive kind.”
Lawrence took the bus everyday from Casa Pacifica, which is a center for abused and neglected children who are in the foster care system. This has been his home since last autumn, and officials refused to comment on his family history, other that that his parents, Dawn and Greg King, were alive and that he had four brothers and sisters.  He only just started going to E.O. Green last winder, but “He had made connections here. It’s just a huge trauma here,” said Steven Elson, the chief executive of the center. “It’s emotionally very charged.”
Lawrence seemed to be ahead of his time, as are many homosexuals, when it came to concerning homosexuality. He was able to open himself up and face a characteristic of his that many people could not. Although the number of adolescents coming out in junior high school increases every year, students attending junior high in California are 3% more likely to be harassed because of it, according to the 2005 California Healthy Kids Survey. Too many people, it seems, don’t have it in them to accept people like Lawrence into their lives.
McIerney is on $770,000 bail, said his lawyer, Brian Vogel. He is set to enter a plea on March 21. If he is convicted, he faces 52 years to a lifetime in prison.
Said the Reverend Dan Birchfield of Westminister Presbyterian Church during a memorial service for Lawrence, “God knit Larry together and made him wonderfully complex. Larry was a masterpiece.”

By Mr. Lakhaney

TOK Teacher

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