BY ZACK FORD
It’s been over five and a half years since 14-year-old Brandon McInerney shot his Oxnard, California classmate Lawrence “Larry” King in the head out of disgust for his sexual orientation and gender identity. The murder occurred a year before the spate of LGBT teen suicides that prompted the “It Gets Better” campaign, serving as a significant wake-up call about the issue of anti-LGBT bullying in U.S. schools. The new documentary Valentine Road, premiering Monday night on HBO, tells the story of Larry’s death, Brandon’s trial, and the institutional failures that led both boys to their fates.
No doubt, Larry’s gender non-conforming identity is at the heart of the story. He liked to wear dresses, high heels, and make-up to school, and openly expressed attraction to Brandon. Administrators at E.O. Green Junior High School, who declined to be interviewed for the documentary, pathologized Larry’s identity, suggesting it was a “behavioral problem” that he should minimize, though he was permitted to continue dressing as he pleased. One teacher who did speak in the film, ardent Catholic Shirley Brown, explained that Larry did not know “the consequences of his actions,” adding that she could even relate to Brandon’s reaction.
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