Sunday, July 27, 2008

PFLAG, Newsweek and Larry King

The July 28th Newsweek cover story on the murder of Lawrence King has generated a heated debate about safe schools, the role family and community leaders play in students' lives and the series of events that led to King's death. The story, which looked at the administration in the school where King attended classes, and both his family life and that of his killer's, resulted in a flood of letters to the magazine.

On Friday, Newsweek editor Kurt Soller summarized some of the feedback the editorial team had received, including a response from PFLAG executive director Jody Huckaby:

While some saw the story as a saga of self-discovery, others viewed it as a tale of sexual harassment--in which King's taunting of McInerney, including rumors of a relationship as well as a valentine, crossed the line. "Larry was a bully and was allowed to get away with it because the school officials were fricking afraid to confront him because he said he was gay," wrote Divadawn. "It saddens me that the end result was death and I'm not condoning what Brandon did, but I'm also not condoning what Larry and the school officials did." Other readers wrote that "Larry should have been admonished for sexual harassment," and that given McInerney's declining grades and recent classroom disruption, "the adults in this situation should have been watching Brandon like a hawk."

Jody Huckaby, the executive director of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, who released a statement on our story, echoed that idea: "California has a strong anti-bullying law that specifically includes our gay and transgender kids," he writes. "But it is how adults--both parents and educators--ensure the law is carried out, and that teachable moments are seized, that makes all the difference in the world." There is something to be learned here, he argues, from the death of Larry King and its coverage by the magazine. "We need to give our children the room, and the safety, to be who they are," he adds.

You can read Soller's full report here. And for the full Newsweek coverage of King's death, click here. Then, leave your own thoughts about the story in our comments section here at the blog.

1 comment:

Hollywood Beach said...

I read the Newsweek story, and it did not disrespect or criticize Larry King. As a crime victim advocate, I commend the article as being well-written and thorough. We cannot begin to grasp the enormity of the crime unless we begin to understand the background of the victim. In criminology, this is known as "victimology." It does not demean any victim of any crime, but anyone looking into a crime must understand the motivational factors behind it, and must have a thorough understanding of the victim. Nothing in the Newsweek story impugned the reputation of Larry - but simply identified who he was and his background, and his 'issues.' There was absolutely no valid reason for anyone to have objected to this article. The Newsweek story gives us all a better understanding of who Larry was, but does not lessen our love, or sense of loss for his life. I commend Newsweek for researching and printing the story, and giving it the prominence it does.