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 â€˜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.