By Staff Reports

AUSTIN A vigil to remember two LGBT youths whose recent deaths made headlines will be held in this weekend in Austin.

On Feb. 12, 15-year old Lawrence "Larry" King was shot and killed by a fellow classmate in Oxnard, Calif.

Classmates said King revealed he was gay earlier this school year and had been teased because he wore makeup, high heels and other feminine attire.

A 14-year-old classmate, Brandon McInerney, is charged with killing the eighth-grader. Prosecutors want to try him as an adult for murder and committing a hate crime.

Also last week, 10-year-old Cameron McWilliams took his own life in his South Yorkshire, England, home after telling his mother he wanted to be a girl.

Out Youth, Equality Texas Foundation and numerous community partners invite the public to a vigil in memory of Larry, Cameron, and others on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. at Out Youth, located at 909 East 49th Street in Austin. During the vigil, community partners will be advocating for LGBTQ youth, safe schools, and suicide prevention.

"The tragic loss of these young people reminds us of the task before us," said Matt Smith, executive director of Central Texas’ Out Youth. "As a community and as a society, we need to make it just as safe for LGBTQ youth as for everyone else."

Paul Scott, executive director of the Equality Texas Foundation, said bullying and harassment are pervasive problems in the state’s schools. "However, there are proactive measures that schools can implement to successfully address bullying and harassment."

Scott said those measures include anti-bullying policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity, staff training, gay-straight alliances, and age-appropriate curricula.

In addition to Out Youth and the Equality Texas Federation, sponsors include Atticus Circle, the Campus Alliance for Progress, MCC Austin at Freedom Oaks, PFLAG Austin, Soulforce, the Texas GSA Network, Transgender Advocates of Central Texas and Youth First.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 22, 2008

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