“Justice for Larry” – “Save Brandon”
Posted by lizmanvell
No trial, no jury, no witnesses. Just a sentencing hearing.
In earlier posts I discussed the issues and controversies surrounding the shooting death of 14 year-old Larry King by classmate Brandon McInerney, and the subsequent trial and hung jury. Larry was openly gay and it bothered Brandon, especially when Larry teased him. It bothered Brandon so much that he brought a gun to their middle school and calmly shot Larry in the back of the head twice, as he sat unaware in the computer lab. It was clearly the premeditated murder of one student because he was gay and dressed in feminine clothing, by another student accused of acting on an intolerance of homosexuality. It was an extremely violent and fatal way to settle differences.
No one wanted the anguish of living through another trial and facing the possibility of a second jury unable to reach a verdict. Brandon was, once again, going to be charged with first-degree murder as an adult, the issue that caused the divide in the first jury. By accepting a guilty plea of second-degree murder, manslaughter, and use of a firearm, McInerney was sentenced yesterday to 21 years in prison instead of the life in prison sentence carried by a conviction of first-degree (premeditated) murder. Brandon is ineligible for parole and will be 38 when released.
Those at the sentencing hearing represented the multiple perspectives and human rights questions that plagued the trial. A handful of jurors from the mistrial wore “Save Brandon” bracelets and scarves while across the aisle Larry’s friends and family wore “Justice for Larry” buttons.
Yet, everyone can take away some essential understandings from the tragedy:
- Yes, school really is a tough place for gay students, and they may need extra adult support.
- No one-gay or straight-likes being teased or harassed, and they shouldn’t have to put up with it.
- Parents, teachers, and administrators need to be on the lookout for tensions brewing between students. They need to intervene early and decisively before the situation escalates. They are the adults and they should know what to do.
- Students, K-12, need to be intentionally taught and expected to show respect for others, regardless of whether they approve of or like the person’s beliefs, color, ethnicity, religion, learning needs, appearance, or sexuality.
We don’t need anymore Larrys and Brandons. And as you can see from the list, it is the adults that set the school climate and define what can and cannot happen in their school.
Posted on December 20, 2011, in Bullying and Harassment, In the News, Laws and Policies, Perspectives, Prevention and tagged discrimination, essential understandings, harassment, respect, safe school climate. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.