Showing posts with label Gay Children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Children. Show all posts

March 13, 2019

11 Yr Old Performs in Drag At Bars~ Blogger Wanted it Stopped But Mom Cleared




                                                  


By Doug Mainwaring
NEW YORK,(LifeSiteNews) — 
Drag kid “Desmond Is Amazing’s” mom has taken to social media to vindicate herself after state and local agencies determined that she has not committed child abuse by allowing her young son to perform in gay bars.
A barrage of allegations of abuse and exploitation were triggered when a video of Desmond performing in drag at the “3 Dollar Bill,” a gay club in Brooklyn, New York, was released last December. The internet and social media quickly erupted with calls for child welfare authorities to intervene.
Child Protective Services (CPS) investigated Desmond’s family, as did the New York City Administration for Child Services (ACS), the New York Police Department (NYPD), the Child Advocacy Center, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Department of Labor, and the District Attorney’s Office. 
“Because of the number of reports they received, our case went all the way to the Governor's office,” said Wendy Napoles, Desmond’s mom. “We had announced visits & unannounced visits to our home nearly daily & at all hours & Desmond’s school. Our family was probed more intensely than any other case before.”
This past weekend, Napoles posted on Instagram a series of ten photos of the exonerating letters she has received from the concerned agencies, showing that the assertions of child abuse were “unfounded.” 
“We have been accused of child abuse, exploitation & maltreatment to the point that we have been backed into a corner trying to defend ourselves,” she said in the Instagram posting. “We have been under a microscope since early December. I never thought I would have to breach my own privacy & confidentiality to provide proof that has been demanded of us out of malice.”   
Within the law versus the best interest of children
While Desmond’s mom dismisses the public’s concern as harassment because no crime has been committed, some suggest that what is legal might not necessarily be in her son’s best interest. 
Earlier this year, blogger Elizabeth Johnston, better known as The Activist Mommy, urged updating laws to protect children like Desmond.  
Johnston asserted that laws protecting children from sexual exploitation are not being applied to the LGBT community, saying, “It's 2019 when apparently it’s not only okay to be gay but also okay for grown gay men to pay little boys for dances in bars.” 
“Parents can get away with it because they are members of the all-protected LGBT community,” she said. “The double standard needs to end. And children in the LGBT community need to be protected as much as those outside.”
Desmond’s mom defends, says “times are changing” 
“Desmond is never allowed into the bar area of any club, nor the main floor. He stays backstage with me, in the dressing room, or on stage only. It must be noted, however, that it is not against the law in New York City for a minor to be in an establishment that serves alcohol as long as they are accompanied by an adult. 
“Desmond was the sole performer for the performance at the center of this controversy and he performed three numbers. The venue took measures to make sure it would be age appropriate and audience members that attended were respectful and in good conduct.
“I know a lot of drag fans/drag queens do not want to see kids in what they consider an adult form of entertainment or venue, but drag is changing and becoming more widespread and popular with people of all ages, genders, identities, races, abilities, and disabilities.m“My son is a professional drag performer, not a stripper,” said Napoles in an early January Facebook posting. “No one forces him to perform, performing is what he loves to do and has always loved to do.” 
“He was a ballet dancer for four years and is currently earning an A+ grade in drama at his school,” she continued. “He is extremely talented in his celebrity and character impersonations.”
“His costumes are less revealing than a dancer’s or cheerleader’s uniform and are always age appropriate. While he dances, he does not move in a sexual manner,” she asserted.  “He often collects tips, as drag queens sometimes do, which we allow him to keep and he uses to buy clothing and the toys he wants.” 
“His engagements are contracted and booked by his management agency,” she added. “All of his performances are conducted in accordance with the Dept of Labor's regulations for child performers.”
Even some drag queens, gays, and liberals object to Desmond’s adult club performances
At the same time, Napoles admitted via Facebook that some in the “drag community” had negative reactions to Desmond’s gay club performance.  
“I left after seeing a child dance on stage for money at nighttime. This was on Saturday night and I have been feeling disturbed ever since,” said a patron on Yelpshortly after Desmond’s drag dance act at the 3 Dollar Bill in December.
Another said the club “exploits children and sexualizes them in the wee hours of the morning” and then warned that it “has provided just the ammunition to homophobic everywhere and endangered the community.”
“11-year-olds are too young to be performing at bars. This should not be legal,” declared “God is not Real” on Twitter, adding, “I'm a liberal democrat.”
Note from the publisher(Adam): I have seen plenty of boys her age performing in bars as cowboy and dancers in Texas, just not in drag and I think that is what some hypocrites can't swallow. Putin will not agree with this! if we were in Russia but people forget that even though the president is close to Putin, still this is the USA

February 12, 2019

11 Yr Old Sixth Grader Savannah Tirre, Targeted and Assaulted Left With Scary Anti Gay Threats



Algernon D'Ammassa, Las Cruces Sun-News
LAS CRUCES - Social media threats targeting a sixth-grader at Zia Middle School over the weekend led to a brief "shelter in place" order at the school Monday morning.
Despite the threats, and a violent encounter on school grounds Friday, 11-year-old Savannah Tirre returned to school Monday, arriving with a group of friends and family members. 
The student's mother, Chelsea Tirre, told the Sun-news her daughter was being escorted between classes Monday by the school resource officer, a Mesilla town marshal regularly assigned to the school.  
Tirre said her daughter has been the target of bullying since October, when her daughter came out as gay. She said the bullying began "right off the bat" when Savannah started attending Picacho Middle School, ultimately moving the family to transfer her to Zia where the bullying continued.  
On Friday, Savannah was involved in a fight with an unidentified student at school. A mobile phone video published on Facebook shows Tirre on the ground being punched at least six times by a student standing over her before Tirre attempts to push her off with her foot, as recess monitors are heard blowing whistles.
Tirre said her daughter reported the other student punched her from behind. When she saw the video of the encounter later, Tirre said, "My heart just dropped," and she filed a police report.
The video does not show how the encounter began or whether it was instigated over the student's sexual orientation. However, social media comments included threats of further violence toward the student and referred to her being gay.
One example, shared as a screenshot on Facebook by the student's aunt, included a threat with the poster's name obscured that stated, "This little girl is about to get jumped Monday again so get your phones out," describing Tirre as "a little lesbian."
An additional social media threat by an unnamed male, currently under investigation by police, led to security measures Monday which the Las Cruces Public Schools said it took "out of an abundance of caution."
The shelter-in-place order was lifted sometime before 9 a.m., according to the district.
"Savannah is doing surprisingly well," Tirre said of her daughter Monday morning. "She's had a lot of people reach out to her, lots of support. Her adrenaline is still going really strong so it really hasn't hit yet ... Savannah has gone through a lot." 
Mom says attack was preventable
Tirre said that her daughter came out to her as gay the summer after graduating from fifth grade at Mesilla Elementary School.
Tirre recalled hugging her daughter, who was in tears. "We said, 'We don't care, we just want you happy.' It's never been an issue in this family."
Soon after enrolling at Picacho Middle School, however, Tirre said intense bullying began, and she ultimately decided to move Savannah and her brother to Zia because she was not satisfied with the school administration's response. 
Picacho Middle School Principal Fred Montalvo referred the Sun-News to the school district's central office.
LCPS spokesman Damien Willis responded, "While we are unable to comment on matters pertaining to specific students, we take all reports of bullying very seriously and address them in accordance with the district’s policies and regulations. The safety and well-being of all students is our top concern.”
The bullying was so intense, Tirre said, that in October Savannah began experiencing seizures that required treatment in the pediatric intensive care unit at Memorial Medical Center. 
"The bullying has never stopped, although she has more friends at Zia who have protected her from this sort of thing," Tirre said. "It's one group of girls that's doing this, along with two boys." 
Tirre praised Zia Middle School Principal Joel Aguilar for being responsive to the bullying and for his communication with Savannah's family. She said that following Savannah's hospital stay, all of her teachers participated in an action plan to monitor the bullying as well Savannah's physical and emotional health.
"She went to a dark place," Tirre said, "and has worked really, really hard to love herself, respect herself, and reach out to me when she needs me." Savannah has also restricted her time with certain peers along with mobile phone use, "so she could let herself be 11 and not grow up so quickly."
While expressing confidence in Zia's staff, Tirre believes Friday's attack could have been prevented.
"Savannah found out she would be jumped (Friday) morning," Tirre said. "I'm very disappointed the (recess) monitors were not informed of this situation." 
She said meetings were scheduled later Monday to decide the next steps for Savannah, but that she had been told her daughter will not face suspension for the fight, the school having told her "she did not try to do anything but cover herself and defend herself." 
Disciplinary measures for the other student had not been determined, but Tirre said she hoped for a constructive intervention. 
"Middle school, for girls, is tough, I get that, but I think this little girl needs to be set on the right path," Tirre said. "I think she needs to be in some sort of program that can help redirect her. I don't think she should be locked and put away. I hope her parents guide her in the right direction." 
Otherwise, Tirre said, "My focus is on my daughter only ... My daughter is being threatened for her life because she's gay." 
Algernon D'Ammassa can be reached at 575-541-5451, adammassa@lcsun-news.com or @AlgernonActor on Twitter.

September 17, 2018

New Findings from SDSU on Gay and Transgender Identities Finds They Begin As Early as 9 and 10











By La Monica Everett-Haynes


As early as ages 9 and 10, about one percent of children self-identify as potentially gay, bisexual or transgender, according to a national study of the sexual orientation and gender identity development of thousands of youth across the nation. 

With the majority of previous studies indicating that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) self-identification generally occurs during the mid-adolescent years, the report by San Diego State University  researchers Jerel P. Calzo and Aaron J. Blashill is providing new insights into early identity development.

“This is such an important stage, biologically and socially,” said Calzo, an associate professor in SDSU’s School of Public Health and lead author of the study. “At 9 and 10, youth—whether through their peers, media or parents—are beginning to be exposed to more information about relationships and interacting in the world. They may not see any of this as sexual, but they are beginning to experience strong feelings.”

The team’s findings were derived from datasets of computer-assisted interviews with more than 4,500 9- and 10-year-old children for the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States. Protocols for the overall ABCD study were approved by the institutional review board at the University of California, San Diego, one of 21 institutions recruiting families for the study, and home for its data collection hub. All interviews were conducted with the consent of the parents. 

The findings were published in the current issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

Calzo and Blashill utilized 2016-17 data collected from the ABCD Study dataset. The study asked children, “Are you gay or bisexual?” In response, 0.2 percent said “yes” and 0.7 percent said “maybe.” About 75 percent said "no," and 23.7 percent said they didn’t understand the question.

To the question, “Are you transgender?” 0.1 percent said “yes” and 0.4 percent said “maybe.” Some 38 percent said they didn’t understand the question; the rest responded “no.”

“One percent is sizable, given that they are so young,” said Blashill, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology. 

“For so long, social scientists have assumed that there is no point in asking kids at this age about their sexual orientation, believing they do not have the cognitive ability to understand,” he said. “This is the first study to actually ask children about their sexual orientation this young. It is important to have a baseline to understand how sexuality develops and how it may change over time.” 

Blashill and Calzo also investigated identity-related stress and how parents perceived their children’s sexual and gender identities. 

More than 13 percent of parents, when asked about the sexual identity of their children, reported their child might be gay and 1.2 percent reported that their child might be transgender, the team found. 

Another finding was that the 9- and 10-year-olds in the study who identified as gay, bisexual or transgender overwhelmingly reported no problems at home or school related to their minority sexual orientation or gender identity, while 7 percent of parents reported gender identity-based problems. 

As sexual and gender minorities experience higher rates of physical and mental health issues than do their heterosexual counterparts, the research may provide crucial insights into resiliency development within the LGBT community. It could also help lead to improved programs and policies to better serve the community, Calzo said.

“If we can understand identity development earlier and can track development using large datasets, we can begin improving research and prevention around risk and protective factors,” Calzo said, adding that he and Blashill purposefully set out to study sexual identity issues among youth at earlier ages than previous research. 

Another key finding is that researchers must identify better ways to explore identity issues among younger populations, as 23.7 percent of those surveyed indicated they did not understand questions about sexual orientation. This will be crucial as researchers seek to explore other issues, such as same-gender attraction and gender expression, in young children. 

“ABCD does plan to include more measures, and other researchers are studying sexual orientation and gender expression,” said Calzo. “We know from other studies that these identities can change over time. This research helps us to understand sexual and gender identity younger, so that we can have a much better understanding of these identities over time.”

The project is supported by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

News Center.sdsu.edu





July 12, 2018

LGBTI Calls for Hong Kong to Reverse Its Decision to Hide 10 (LGBT-Theme) Children's Books



An international human rights group has called on Hong Kong’s government to immediately reverse its decision to hide 10 children’s books with LGBT themes from public view in libraries, warning the move sent a discriminatory message. 

In a letter to the head of the Home Affairs Bureau and its Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch criticised the move to place the books in the “closed stacks” sections of local libraries. It said the arrangement limited citizens’ access to information about homosexuality and discriminated against LGBT youth based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Discriminatory placement of LGBT content in libraries not only sends a stigmatizing message that LGBT content is inherently inappropriate, but deprives people of their right to access information that could be important to their development, health, and safety,” wrote the group’s LGBT rights advocacy director Boris Dittrich.
Last month, Hong Kong public libraries removed children’s book And Tango Makes Three and nine other titles with LGBT themes to the closed stacks of the children’s section, meaning readers would need to file a request to borrow them.
They did so after an anti-LGBT group, the Family School Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance Concern Group, complained to the LCSD in April about the books’ easy visibility. A gay-rights activist has applied for a judicial review of the decision.











Singapore’s public libraries similarly covered up LGBT-themed books – also including And Tango Makes Three – in 2014, but that was reversed following public outcry. However, the titles intended for children were still kept in the adult section.
Dittrich warned Hong Kong’s move could violate its international obligation to protect equality.
It would also contradict the spirit of Unesco’s public library manifesto, which states it should provide services “on the basis of equality of access for all”, he said.
The LCSD previously said it adhered to the manifesto, but would not use library materials to promote a specific belief or view.
Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu, who sat on the government-appointed Public Library Advisory Committee, said it was alarming for a public library to limit certain books, and that doing so was against the norms of an open society.
He added that public libraries were about to begin buying a new batch of books after the summer and that he hoped the same policy would not be evident in the procurement.

July 6, 2018

Life As A Gay Teenager and Pushed Into Gay Conversion Therapy by His Baptist Parents


Detailing his time in Love in Action, a “gay conversion therapy organization”, for Boy Erased: A Memoir was no easy task for Garrad Conley. Released in 2016, the book begins with a disclaimer that “trauma has made dark what was once painfully clear”, before describing his struggle with his sexuality in a Baptist household in Arkansas, being raped during college – and after he was outed by the perpetrator, the manner in which the intensive intervention tried to turn him straight.
“I hadn’t yet visited Dr. Julie to check my testosterone levels for deficiencies,” he writes at the start of his involvement with Love in Action (LIA). “But I already knew after my first session that I was diseased, possibly incurable.”
Two years on, it pains him to even recall writing the book.
I went into college cranky and mad because I was in that dark world again. To keep myself sane I had to stick to a strict schedule of writing, teaching and running 
“To have to reconstruct all of that . . .” he trails away as we meet in London. “I was teaching in an American college in Bulgaria at the time, and doing writing in the morning then going into work was the hardest thing in the world. I went into college cranky and mad because I was in that dark world again. And my boyfriend at the time had to put up with so much too; to keep myself sane I had to stick to a strict schedule of writing, teaching and running. It was a tough time.”
So when the book was heralded for shining a light on being a gay teenager in America’s bible belt, and director Joel Edgerton (also famed for acting in Red Sparrow and The Great Gatsby) brought it to Focus Films, not even the promise of an all-star cast like Russell CroweNicole Kidman and breakthrough actor Lucas Hedges (Lady BirdManchester by the Sea) could tempt Conley to return to that intense state. 

Nicole Kidman stars as Nancy and Russell Crowe stars as Marshall in Joel Edgerton’s ‘Boy Erased’, a Focus Features release.
Nicole Kidman stars as Nancy and Russell Crowe stars as Marshall in Joel Edgerton’s ‘Boy Erased’, a Focus Features release. 

“I was asked to write the script but I turned it down because I didn’t need to go there again,” he says, shaking the idea away. “I also felt that dramatizing my story in another medium might feel odd, especially as it would be a more fictional account. But I gave feedback on every draft of the script, and I went to visit the set a number of times. My mom, my husband and I were all extras in it. I saw the finished film last week, and it was beautiful.
“People might have a problem with it being told by a straight director, but Joel’s the one who came knocking at my door. He’s the one who completely took the time to understand the story, and it’s in really good hands.”

Happy and confident

We meet over a drink in an upscale bar, and Conley, now 33, looks happy, vivacious and confident enough to turn heads regardless of one’s persuasion. Which is proof enough that his Love in Action “therapy” didn’t work, even without the mention of his husband in New York, or the historical fiction book he’s soon to release (only approved, fundamentalist Christian literature was allowed at LIA). 
His ending is a mostly happy one, though he’s aware that his father, a missionary Baptist minister who prompted Conley to attend LIA, is left in a difficult position. 
“After the book came out, I got some emails that were negative but my dad got the worst of it,” he says, with a soft southern accent. “His work involves going to a lot of churches to energize the crowd, but he’s been rejected from several churches because of me. A good friend of the family stood up in a meeting at one of the churches he used to attend and wanted him out because I was saying all this stuff. 

Garrad Conley and his father at graduation dinner in 2003.
Garrad Conley and his father at graduation dinner in 2003. 

“They’ve faced a lot of scrutinies,” he says. “Randomly, Russell Crowe decided to visit my dad’s church for research for the film. There was no warning, he just took his private jet and his entourage, and went to the church and then talked to my dad for a few hours.
“After that the local media was all over my dad, asking him if they supported his son. That puts him in an awkward position because yes, he supports my career but he still disagrees with me. That’s not a good place for him to be. Especially because he takes care of my mom. She has health issues and the only pay cheque they have is from the church, so I don’t want to jeopardize that.”
It’s a testament to both father and son that they maintain a relationship despite their divergent beliefs, not least as Conley has stepped up to the role of spokesperson against conversion therapy.
I almost killed myself, and a lot of people have killed themselves, and I’m going to speak out in hope that no one else does 
“Some of my family don’t talk to me anymore because they think I shouldn’t share these secrets. It’s a southern thing. Like a lot of rape victims get blamed there, because they’re the ones speaking out,” he says. “They wonder why I’m telling my story and I can’t give my dad an easy life. But it’s because I almost killed myself, and a lot of people have killed themselves, and I’m going to speak out in hope that no one else does.” 
Built on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, conversion therapy treats homosexuality like a disorder, and aims to “cure” patients in-house or, in Conley’s case, while staying in approved hotels under lockdown (“every part of the city was forbidden except for places with the word ‘Christ’ in it, really”.)  
LIA began operating in Memphis in 1994, 20 years before Conley passed through its doors. Nowadays, it operates under the guise of Restoration Path, though the therapy was discredited even before its former director, John Smid, entered a same-sex marriage.

Garrad Conley and his father at graduation dinner in 2003.
Garrad Conley and his father at graduation dinner in 2003. 

Conversion therapy is now partially banned in Canada, Australia and 10 states of America, and fully banned in Malta, Argentina, and Brazil. In Ireland, a prohibition bill passed the second reading in the Seanad in May, with cross-party support. 
“Nice, liberal people are incredulous that it’s happening in 2018, but it’s everywhere.” Has he found his own terms with that too?
The Bible is a strong inspirational text; it’s where I got most of my morality from. It’s a good story 
“When the ‘thought police’ told me that God didn’t love me because of who I was, that was really painful and now I can’t feel comfortable in a church. 
“I still pray. The Bible is a strong inspirational text; it’s where I got most of my morality from. It’s a good story.”
It’s a good story. An innocuous comment, but one which splits him from missionary Baptists, who take a literal interpretation of the Bible – including Leviticus, which says, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind”. But Conley believes that Baptists can change their views towards the queer community. 
“The Bible also says that you can’t eat shrimp, and slavery is in the Bible too. The Baptists used verses to justify slavery and the Jim Crow laws. They’ve since renounced slavery, so why are they incapable of changing this?”
“The really sad part is that LGBTQ issues are ripping the church apart,” he says. “They’re not dealing with it; they’ve farmed it out to places like LIA and trust organizations like Focus on the Family, which was funded by among others Mike Pence, our vice-president, who also supported conversion therapy. 
“But their congregation deal with LGBTQ issues away from church every day because more people are open about it. Now other denominations like the Episcopal Church and the Unitarians are swooping in and accepting people as they are, so people are flocking to them.”
Even Pope Francis seems to have softened his stance towards the LGBT community.
“And you know when the dinosaurs are saying it, you’re doing pretty well,” grins Conley. 
The film, he hopes, will continue adding pressure for reform when it’s released in September. 
“Regardless of how it does, it’s a huge platform to talk about the issues I’ve been trying to highlight,” he says. “It’s a cliché to say it, but even if it helps one person, it will all be worth it.” 
  • Boy Erased: A Memoir is out now. The film adaptation is released on September 28th

July 2, 2018

Mother of 10 Yr Old Who Came Out as Gay Charged with Murder of Her Kid


This is a follow up on this story: https://adamfoxie.blogspot.com/2018/06/10-yr-old-anthony-came-out-gay-few-wks.html

                                                            🌹


The mother of a 10-year-old Lancaster, California, boy who came out as gay weeks before his death has been arrested and charged with his murder.
Heather Maxine Barron, 28, was charged with one count of murder and one count of torture for the death of her son, Anthony Avalos, by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on Friday, according to a press release by the office.
She also faces one count of child abuse. Barron’s bail was set to $2 million, online jail records show.
Her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, 32, was arrested and charged with Anthony’s murder and torture on Wednesday.
He faces one additional count of assault on a child causing death. His bail was also set to $2 million.
Barron has not yet entered a plea. Her arrangement was postponed to Monday, while Leiva, who is being treated for a laceration in his upper chest, will be arraigned after he is medically cleared, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Anthony died on June 21 after being found unresponsive a day earlier at his family’s apartment.


View photos


Barron initially told police he was injured in a fall, authorities say.
An autopsy is not yet complete that would reveal the exact cause and manner of Anthony’s death, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Wednesday at a news conference announcing Leiva’s arrest.
Officials with the county’s Department of Children and Family Services, which investigated 13 prior allegations of child abuse at the boy’s residence between February 2013 and April 2016, initially raised homophobia as a thread they wanted to investigate in Anthony’s death, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Anthony recently “said he liked boys,” according to DCFS Deputy Director Brandon Nichols, and Anthony’s aunt said it would have been a brave move for him to come out as gay in his home, the newspaper reported.


View photos


But when asked Wednesday if homophobia may have been a motivation in the boy’s death, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Bergner told reporters, “That has not come up in our investigation as motivation at this time, no.”
Sheriff McDonnell added: “We wouldn’t discuss motive at this point [in the investigation]. Too early.”



View photos


June 29, 2018

Gang member Charged with Killing of 10 Yr Boy Who Had Come Out as Gay


Alleged Killer: (Because of men like this is the reason many support the death penalty).



This is a follow up story: https://adamfoxie.blogspot.com/2018/06/10-yr-old-anthony-came-out-gay-few-wks.html



 In memory of Anthony👼 and Gabriel



This story originally posted on  nbcnews.com  by Kit Ramgopal and Karin Roberts 


A man described as a member of a violent gang was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder in the death of a 10-year-old boy in Southern California, officials said. The boy, Anthony Avalos, had recently come out as gay, a county official said, and some suspect that homophobia played a role in his death.
Anthony Avalos was taken to a hospital on June 20 after his mother, Heather Barron, called 911 to report that he had been injured in a fall, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He was not breathing and unresponsive when emergency workers found him in his Lancaster home, and he died the next day.
His body showed signs of physical abuse and malnutrition, child welfare workers said, and his death was classified as suspicious.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Barron's boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, 32, had been arrested on murder charges and was being held on $2 million bail. McDonnell said that while being interviewed, “Leiva made statements that led detectives to arrest him for the murder of Anthony Avalos.”



Image: Anthony Avalos
Anthony Avalos













Before Leiva’s arrest, Brandon Nichols, deputy director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, told The Los Angeles Times that Anthony had “said he liked boys” in the weeks prior to his death. The department confirmed this detail to NBC Los Angeles but declined to provide additional details.
McDonnell declined to discuss a potential motive but he did tell reporters that homophobia “has not come up in our investigation as a motivation at this time.”



Image: Anthony Avalos
Anthony Avalos














However, Avalos’ uncle David Barron, the brother of Heather Barron and a co-worker of Leiva’s, told NBC News that Leiva has a history of homophobia. He recalled a number of times when Leiva said he was “uncomfortable just being around” gay men.
Caseworkers reportedly documented that Leiva was a member of MS-13, the criminal gang frequently mentioned by President Donald Trump during his immigration speeches. At least one branch of the gang, located in El Salvador, reportedly kills members found to be gay.
Before his death, Anthony had suffered years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse at the hands of family members, according to the Department of Children and Family Services. Caseworkers responded to 12 different complaints between February 2013 and April 2016, including sexual abuse by a grandparent when Anthony was 4, and general neglect.
“In private interviews, Anthony disclosed details consistent with media reports that he was beaten, locked up, and not fed,” Bobby Cagle, the director of the department, wrote in a statement shared with NBC News.
Image: Anthony Avalos



                                                                 Anthony Avalos 



Some of the complaints were substantiated, but others were unfounded or inconclusive, Cagle said. Anthony stayed with relatives from May to December 2014 while his family received in-home counseling, but he was eventually sent back home. Cagle said the last complaint regarding Anthony was in April 2016.
The department said eight children ranging in age from 11 months to 12 years old have been removed from the home of Barron and Leiva “pending further investigation.” They are now in the department's custody. It is not clear whether Barron will be charged in connection with her son's death.
Karla Avalos, one of the boy’s aunts, expressed frustration that Anthony and the other children were ever permitted to return to the home after being removed. “I'm mad, because there was multiple reports done,” Karla Avalos told NBC News. “There were phone calls, and nobody did anything. I don’t know why they thought that was OK for them to go back with their mother.”
“What is wrong with the system?” she asked.
Anthony Avalos’ death bears a striking resemblance to a 2013 case in neighboring Palmdale, less than 10 minutes from Lancaster.



Image: Gabriel Fernandez
Gabriel Fernandez, who was routinely beaten, starved, forced to sleep in a closet and tortured until his 2013 death by his parents.NBC News
















Eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez died in May 2013 after being routinely beaten and starved by his mother and her boyfriend. Prosecutors said Gabriel was systematically abused because his mother’s boyfriend thought the boy was gay. Like Anthony, Gabriel was on the radar of the Department of Children and Family Services, though he was never removed from his home.
Gabriel’s mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in February and was sentenced earlier this month to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, was sentenced to death earlier this month.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl told The Los Angeles Times that the possibility that both Anthony and Gabriel were targeted for being gay was particularly heartbreaking.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Kuehl told the paper. “I know that young people in my community every day find themselves at risk of violence.”
Lorri Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, said her organization has been warning the county about the “unique problems that LGBT kids face.”
“This was a sad and tragic murder, but the tragic truth is that it was predictable,” Jean told NBC News. “If nothing is done, it won’t be the last.”

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