A flamboyant cross-dresser, 14-year-old Lawrence King was killed in his Los Angeles school by a boy he loved. The murder trial starts this week, but analysts are debating another question: Whether King's death could have been avoided. Newsweek goes behind the scenes, looking at King's troubled upbringing, the teachers who argued his case, and the student who ultimately killed him.
Some teachers wanted to clamp down on King for flirting openly with boys at school. Others, including a lesbian assistant principal, supported him; one even gave him a dress as a gift. But most agree that the school failed King, and even his alleged killer—and that US middle schools are ill-prepared for students who identify as gay at an increasingly young age.