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15 August 2006

Shooting Tied to Gender Stereotypes?

The following was sent out by GenderPAC

New School Shooting Appears Tied to Gender Stereotypes and Bullying

WASHINGTON (August 15, 2006) Bullying caused by gender stereotypes appears to be at issue in a school shooting by seventeen-year-old Joshua Minks, according to his mother. Amanda Minks, who just began speaking publicly about the incident late last week, stated that her son had complained of being subjected to daily taunting and homophobic slurs by classmates because of his appearance. Minks is 6'5" and weighs 400-pounds.

Minks, who attended high school in Farmington, Missouri, pleaded guilty to assault on school property and unlawful use of a weapon earlier this summer after firing a hole into the school ceiling with a shotgun when he was confronted by three students. A principal and teacher subdued him before anyone was hurt.

"Research shows that school violence against boys who are seen as unmanly –public humiliation, ridicule, beatings and other attacks – is closely linked to school shootings," said Tyrone Hanley, GenderPAC's Youth Program Coordinator. “This incident seems to follow that pattern.”

In a 2003 study of school-violence, SUNY Stony Brook Sociology Professor Michael Kimmel found that nearly all 29 school shootings that occurred between 1992 and 2001 involved shotguns or assault rifles and were carried out by heterosexual white male teenagers in rural communities who had been mercilessly bullied for being unmasculine or unathletic.

And gender bullying is apparently widespread: 27% of students reported harassment for not being masculine or feminine enough and over half said that school was unsafe for boys who weren't as masculine as other boys in a 2004 study by the California Safe Schools Coalition.

Added Hanley, "“We're not going to stop school shootings until we address violent codes of masculinity among rural, white, teenage males.”"

In an interview with KFVS television last week, Minks' mother claimed the school promised to examine its safety and harassment guidelines to address the bullying directed at her son, but never followed through. Minks is currently scheduled to be sentenced September 15.

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