Teacher Says She Would Have Attacked Murdered Gay Student, Too

One of the former teachers of a murdered gay teenager not only says that she relates to the motives of the killer. Shirley Brown, who once taught 15-year-old Lawrence “Larry” King at Green Junior High School in Oxnard, California, says that she would have attacked the teenager herself.

King was shot at point-blank range in the back of his head in a computer science lab by another student, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney, in 2008. McInerney was sentenced to 21 years in prison in December of 2011, after pleading guilty to second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and unlawful use of a firearm.

During the trial, prosecutors presented McInerney as being unable to control his anger and influenced by white supremacist ideology; they argued that the killing of King was a hate crime but jurors rejected this. The defense claimed that King, who occasionally wore jewelry, high-heeled boots and makeup to school, had made unwanted sexual advances to McInerney.

A documentary about the murder of King, Valentine Road, by Marta Cunningham recently aired on HBO as part of National Bullying Prevention Month. In it, Brown is shown laughing while saying that

“I do believe in a heaven and a hell, and I do believe Larry honestly did not have a clue, honestly, the consequences of his actions.

“I relate to Brandon because I could see my own self being in that very same position.

“I don’t know if I would have taken a gun, but a good swift kick in the butt might work really well.”

As a teacher, I think that Brown’s remarks are unconscionable. The question begs to be asked, did McInerney not “have a clue” about the “consequences” of his action, of taking a gun and shooting King?

The classroom is a place where people, and especially those who are teachers, need to leave their politics and personal perspectives at the door and all the more so in regard to students in middle school. Adolescents dealing with puberty and their changing bodies are at a transitional period of their lives, on the cusp of childhood and teenager with adulthood very near. Creating an atmosphere of tolerance and openness to a diversity of beliefs and ways of being is absolutely called for.

As adults in a position of authority and de facto role models, teachers, whether they know it or not and for better or for worse, play a huge role in influencing students’ thinking and especially about highly sensitive issues such as sexuality and questions of identity.

Newsweek pronounced King’s murder to be “the most prominent gay-bias crime since the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard.” Hateful and violent remarks such as those made by Brown make it all too clear why all of us, and certainly those who are teaching children, need to recognize that we have to constantly reaccess our own beliefs and prejudices in a changing society.

It’s simply tragic to see how little Brown has learned since one student at the school she taught in murdered another student and to hear her say, if she had had the chance, she would have hurt King, too.

Photo from Thinkstock

195 comments

Fi T.
Fi T.about a year ago

No violence can help solve problems

Alexander Hay-Whitton
Alexander Hay-Whittonabout a year ago

The issue isn't homophobia, it's ridiculously under-regulated access to weapons. I'm bi myself, and I support people's right to hate or despise me; I draw the line at their being able to get their hands on lethal weapons, and to bring them into classrooms; particularly if they're teenagers, and extra-particularly if they're American teenagers.

Dave C.
David C.about a year ago

sadly noted, does nothing to return a life or lives

Mary Beth M.
Mary Beth M.about a year ago

This article is sensational and poorly written with a distinct bias. It starts out with us having believe that the teacher agreed with the shooting, while further down she is quoted as saying that she doesn't know if she would have taken a gun but mentions a kick in the butt. A far cry from condoning murder. While certainly not Teacher of the Year...there's nothing to suggest that anything she said or did spurred on the attack; only comments made afterwards in explanation. When Brown states that the victim 'didn't have a clue' about the consequences of his actions, the author with non sequitur logic asks if the perpetrator did 'not have a clue'? Huh? If observed 'unwanted sexual advances' was the motivator, could this have been prevented? Perhaps the bigger question is how did a HS student have such easy access to a gun and bring it into the school?

Teresa W.
Teresa W.2 years ago

well said, Ronna!

Teresa W.
Teresa W.2 years ago

shocking

Terrance Timmons
Terrance Timmons2 years ago

i looked up the teacher directly for the school and she is no longer there thankfully

Sheri s
Sheri Schongold2 years ago

Has she been fired yet? She is a travesty and the reason so many people don't like and don't trust the educators we have. She needs to be taught a few lessons. Perhaps being out with gays to see that they are just people too. The murder was no accident. How could it be. He brought the gun to school and shot him in the back of the head, making sure he had the time to aim perfectly. If that's an accident, then Obama is a good president.

Barbara Smit
Past Member 2 years ago

Astonishing.

Ronna Sommers
Ronna Sommers2 years ago

DISGUSTING 'TEACHER'.....!!