Revised Attacks on Kevin Jennings: They Think You’re Stupid

Kevin Jennings, Protecting Kids, Not Harming Them
Kevin Jennings, Protecting Kids, Not Harming Them
About ten days ago, FOX News and other conservative media outlets started running with the Religious Right’s attacks on Kevin Jennings. Even after their allegations of encouraging statutory rape were proven false and evidence was provided (ahem) that the student in question was well over the Massachusetts age of consent, even after Media Matters provided the student’s driver license and a statement from the student himself, I knew they wouldn’t just abandon all these months and years of groundwork they’ve laid.

Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association (AFA) proved me right with an email early this morning, in which he let us in on the upcoming revised attacks. Expect this spin to show up on conservative media outlets shortly. (Here’s a screencap.) The text is below, and I’ll be stopping to correct Mr. Wildmon here and there.

Kevin Jennings is an open homosexual…

The rest of the letter is nearly irrelevant after the opening six words. Tim Wildmon has tipped his hand and told us what his big problem with Sec. Jennings is: He’s not sufficiently ashamed of being gay.

But just for kicks and grins, let’s soldier on.

…who is now serving the Department of Education as President Obama’s “Safe and Drug Free Schools” czar.

Freaking out about “czars” is the new strategy from opponents of President Obama. Never mind that he’s only added one czar to the list from President Bush II, or that President Bush II increased the group more than four fold, or that every president has had similar advisors called “czars” since President Roosevelt, or that Kevin Jennings doesn’t even meet the generally accepted definition of “czar”. Americans remember when czars were big scary commie Ruskies, and in the AFA World, any attempt to breathlessly tie someone to that cultural memory is justified, whether the allegation is true or not.

Jennings is the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which pushes so-called “anti-bullying” policies which even GLSEN admits are really about promoting “affirmation” of homosexual behavior in the school system.

Damn right anti-bullying policies have a lot to do with stopping the abuse that LGBT students receive. LGBT students, or even kids who aren’t LGBT, are prime targets for abuse. That’s what the GLSEN Safe Spaces is all about: Providing a place where they can be free from the harassment and find an understanding ear. But that bullying suffered by LGBT kids isn’t the entirety of anti-bully policies.

When you get down to it, it’s about giving a damn about kids, which seems a bridge too far for Tim Wildmon.

Jennings is intolerant of the “religious right,” 90% of whom enroll their children in public schools, and said in a 2000 speech “I’m trying not to say ‘[F—] ’em’…I don’t care what they think. Drop dead!”

We should all be intolerant of the dogma coming from the Religious Right. Klan members send their kids to public schools too, but we don’t spend time listening to their warped view of the world. No problem here.

He wants homosexual indoctrination of students at all levels, having written the forward to a book entitled Queering Elementary Education, and saying in 2004, “Ex-gay messages have no place in our nation’s public schools…There is no ‘other side’ when you’re talking about lesbian, gay and bisexual students.”

Second part first, I agree with Sec. Jennings on the ex-gay industry. It is a sad, painful, psychologically damaging industry that makes a lot of money off of teaching people to hate themselves more effectively.

As for the forward he wrote, the Religious Right loves this book if only for the provocative title. The entire non-truncated title, by the way, is Queering Elementary Education: Advancing the Dialogue about Sexualities and Schooling (Curriculum, Cultures, and (Homo)Sexualities). It asks and tries to answer some of the more uncomfortable questions about the methods we use to teach our children, and how we should add different and unconventional, or “queer”, methods for the betterment of all students.

Anyway, about that forward. Would you like to read it? Here it is from Google Books. It’s oh-so-shocking!

Oddly enough, Sec. Jennings addressed Wildmon’s objections ten years before he made them. Some things never change…

By his own admission he failed his legal duty to report what he believed to be a case of statutory rape when a young student approached him for counsel after the boy had been preyed on by an older adult in a local bus station bathroom. Jennings’ main piece of advice: “I hope you know how to use a condom.”

We finally get to the part that they had to revise. Instead of saying that he failed to report statutory rape, now they’re saying that he failed to report what he thought was statutory rape. There is no evidence to support this statement. Wildmon and others in the Religious Right made it up.

Also, they got the quote wrong. I know they don’t care, but it’s important that Jennings was reacting to sex that “Brewster” said had already happened. From the speech: “You know, I hope you knew to use a condom.” It was a past-tense admonition in 1988, at the height of the AIDS epidemic in America, to use a rubber. By the way, the extremely few places I’ve been able to find this incorrect version of the quote are from followers of the Religious Right, and they usually point back to Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association. Funny, that.

Love the use of the word “young”, though. It obscures the student’s actual age of legal consent while suggesting to the reader that he was a little boy. Kudos, Tim. This is fear mongering at its finest.

He writes in his 2006 memoir without any remorse of frequently getting “drunk and stoned” when he was a teenager.

OH MY GOD SOMEONE WHO GREW UP IN THE 1970s SMOKED POT!!! WE MUST DESTROY HIM!!!

Kevin Jennings is not qualified under any ethical standard to be entrusted with the safety of our nation’s public school children.

I’ll reiterate what I’ve said before: There is no better qualified person for this job than Kevin Jennings. Since at least 1990, his career has been focused on advocating for and providing compassionate, safe environments for kids –all kids– to learn in. It would be nothing short of tragic to lose his leadership in the Department of Education’s Safe and Drug Free Schools office, especially since, if you’ll remember from the first sentence, their biggest problem is that he’s gay.

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10 thoughts on “Revised Attacks on Kevin Jennings: They Think You’re Stupid

  1. Well done.”He’s not sufficiently ashamed of being gay.” Yes, that's the root of the Religious Right's hatred of us. We're too uppity.

  2. “Czar” was NEVER associated with Communists– just the opposite, in fact. Communists assassinated the Czar and his family during the Revolution!

  3. Silly, they don't let facts get in the way of a good fear campaign! The important part is that to most Americans, Russia = Commie and Russia = Czar, therefore Commie = Czar. Facts be damned.I'm not saying it's right, just that it is.

  4. Fox “News” and the Religious Wrong treating people as if they're stupid and gullible?At least they know their audience.If I had a gay child, I would want somebody like Kevin Jennings in charge of making sure he/she had a safe, non-judgemental environment in which to learn, where they (and I) wouldn't have to be afraid of being bullied to death and have it brushed off as, “Well, he/she brought it on him/herself by not being ashamed of who he/she was.”If the American Family (but only the Right kind of family) Association finds any of that threatening, they really need to have a serious look at themselves and their precious values.

  5. Fox “News” and the Religious Wrong treating people as if they're stupid and gullible?At least they know their audience.If I had a gay child, I would want somebody like Kevin Jennings in charge of making sure he/she had a safe, non-judgemental environment in which to learn, where they (and I) wouldn't have to be afraid of being bullied to death and have it brushed off as, “Well, he/she brought it on him/herself by not being ashamed of who he/she was.”If the American Family (but only the Right kind of family) Association finds any of that threatening, they really need to have a serious look at themselves and their precious values.

  6. I do happen to have children, have NO religious affiliations, and I think you are all just part of the problem. I just do not understand how some people can think THEIR way is THE ONLY way! That includes the gay and lesbian and the RIGHT as you put it. It makes me sick to see EVERYONE act like THEY know EVERYTHING! If you want the RIGHT to stop whatever they are doing to you, you should all stop this crazy talk. I do not find Jennings or any of you “threatning”, I find you all (RIGHT included) disgusting. Why can't you just live your life and leave others alone. If I do not want my children to accept gays and lesbians, thats MY perogative- NOT YOURS!

  7. a) They're the ones who came up with the name “Religious Right” some years ago.b) Not sure what “this crazy talk” is referring to.c) Why does it make you sick when someone points out lies?d) I've yet to talk to any gay person who doesn't wish we could just live our lives. I had a whole other blog that's been mothballed for close to a year because people like Tim Wildmon aren't willing to let me just live my life. We don't fight by choice, but by necessity.e) You're right, I can't keep you from teaching your children to hate.

  8. “I just do not understand how some people can think THEIR way is THE ONLY way!”You're right, I also don't understand how so many straight people have a problem with people being different to themselves. However, I've yet to meet a gay person who had a problem with me being straight.”If you want the RIGHT to stop whatever they are doing to you, you should all stop this crazy talk.”What 'crazy talk' is that? Wanting to be treated as equals? Wanting to not be persecuted? “Why can't you just live your life and leave others alone.”There's nothing that gay people want more than simply that; to live their lives. Unfortunately, ignorant bigots keep trying to prevent them from doing just that.”If I do not want my children to accept gays and lesbians, thats MY perogative- NOT YOURS!”It's true, you have every right to bring your children up to be ignorant, hateful bigots. Hopefully they'll have the intelligence and the decency to reject your teachings once they realise that gay people are just regular people like you and me.

  9. “If I do not want my children to accept gays and lesbians, thats MY perogative- NOT YOURS!”And yet you cannot ever explain in any rational way why acceptance of gays and lesbians would be a bad thing for your kids. If your kids are shown in school that to be gay is Ok, then yes, perhaps they'll come out earlier and accept that they're gay – if they ever were gay to begin with! – which will free them from a lot of hurt in repressing, so it comes down to your unpsoken argument, which would be…gayness itself is wrong. Not hurtful to oneself or others, but just plain wrong. Anything done between people of the right age, willingly by both parties, that doesn't hurt them or others in pre-defined and clear ways set down in the law…is Ok for them to do.

  10. “If I do not want my children to accept gays and lesbians, thats MY perogative- NOT YOURS!”And yet you cannot ever explain in any rational way why acceptance of gays and lesbians would be a bad thing for your kids. If your kids are shown in school that to be gay is Ok, then yes, perhaps they'll come out earlier and accept that they're gay – if they ever were gay to begin with! – which will free them from a lot of hurt in repressing, so it comes down to your unpsoken argument, which would be…gayness itself is wrong. Not hurtful to oneself or others, but just plain wrong. Anything done between people of the right age, willingly by both parties, that doesn't hurt them or others in pre-defined and clear ways set down in the law…is Ok for them to do.

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