Gay teen murder illustrates schools' challenge

By GREG RISLING | November 24, 2011 | 10:40 AM EST

FILE - This Feb. 14, 2008, file photo shows students gathering around a makeshift memorial at E.O. Green middle school, honoring slain school student Lawrence King, 15, who was killed by a classmate because he was gay, in Oxnard, Calif. There were many missteps on the way to the murder of a gay student at E.O. Green Junior High School. Teachers and students who witnessed the growing tensions between Brandon McInerney and Larry King were ignored by administrators or did little or nothing to intervene. (AP Photo/Phil McCarten, File)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The 2008 murder of a teen west of Los Angeles illustrates the difficulty schools have balancing a gay student's civil rights with teaching tolerance to those who feel threatened by or uncomfortable about someone who's different.

Some experts say it also highlights the importance of setting clear policies to eliminate confusion among educators.

There were many missed opportunities to prevent the slaying of 15-year-old Larry King at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard.

Teachers and students saw a simmering feud between him and Brandon McInerney but say they were either ignored by administrators or did little or nothing to intervene.

McInerney pleaded guilty Monday to murder and manslaughter for shooting King before stunned classmates.

Now those involved hope lessons learned from the tragedy can prevent future tragedies.