The mother of a Missouri teen who pleaded guilty to an October 2005 school shooting says that her son’s violent actions resulted from his being taunted by classmates for his “unmanly” appearance.

Amanda Minks, who began speaking publicly about the incident late last week claimed that her 17-year-old son Joshua endured homophobic slurs from classmates at his Farmington, Missouri high school.

She said that the high school students ridiculed him because he’s 6′ 5″ tall and weighs 400 lbs.

Joshua Minks 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 Programme Coordinator.

“This incident seems to follow that pattern,” he said.

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.

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

In an interview with Missouri’s 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 scheduled to be sentenced September 15.

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