Slain Gay Teen's Family Blames School

E.O. Green middle school is shown in this, March 4, 2008, file photo in Ventura, Calif. The slaying of Lawrence King, 15, who was killed by a classmate because he was gay, has alarmed gay rights activists and led to demands that middle schools do more to educate youngsters about discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. (AP Photo/Ric Francis, File)
AP Photo/Ric Francis
The family of a gay teenager who was fatally shot in class blames the school district for allowing their son to wear makeup and feminine clothing to school - factors the family claims led to the death.

The parents and brother of 15-year-old Larry King of Oxnard filed a personal injury claim against the Hueneme school district seeking unspecified damages for not enforcing the dress code.

King, an eighth-grader at E.O. Green Junior High School, was shot in February. Classmate Brandon McInerney pleaded not guilty to the shooting last week. He was charged as an adult and also faces a charge of a committing a hate crime.

The family's claim, filed last week in Ventura County Superior Court, said administrators and teachers failed to enforce the school's dress code when King wore feminine clothing and makeup to school.

The claim refers specifically to the school's assistant principal, Joy Epstein, blaming her for creating an environment of "perceived safety" for King though she "could not and did not protect Larry from the threats and ultimate death," reported the Ventura County Star.

King's attire included jewelry and high-heeled boots, which the district Superintendent Jerry Dannenberg said was protected under the boy's First Amendment rights, the newspaper reported, adding that King had told friends he was gay.

His parents, Dawn and Gregory King, said faculty members knew their son had "unique vulnerabilities" and was subject to abuse because of his sexual orientation.

King was a ward of the court and living at a shelter for abused, neglected and emotionally troubled children at the time of the shooting.

A call for comment to district Superintendent Jerry Dannenberg was not immediately returned.

State law requires individuals to file a claim before proceeding with a lawsuit against a public agency.