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Is Kevin Jennings the best person to be the Safe Schools Czar?

President Obama
President Obama
Photo: AP/ J. Scott Applewhite

Yet another of President Obama’s Czars has come under scrutiny. Kevin Jennings is the Safe Schools Czar, and as such is tasked with running the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. This agency assists in developing policies geared to bring about a reduction in violence and drug-related issues in schools, and provides a portion of the funding necessary to implement these policies nationwide. It also administers the nation’s character and civics program.

Shortly after his appointment as Safe Schools Czar, controversy erupted regarding an incident that occurred while Jennings was a high school teacher. In his 1994 book,  One Teacher in Ten: Gay and Lesbian Educators Tell Their Stories, Jennings describes his conversation with a 15 or 16 year old student, “Brewster”.  Brewster told Jennings about an encounter he had with a man he met in a bus station restroom, and that he subsequently went home with the man.  Jennings' response to the story was to tell Brewster to be sure to wear a condom.

Critics believe that the appropriate response of a teacher upon hearing this story should have been (at minimum) to highlight the dangers of having sex with a stranger and to try to discourage future encounters of this sort. Jennings’ telling of this story changed a bit when he recounted it in a 2000 speech and again in his 2006 autobiography, mainly establishing that the boy was 16 (the age of consent in Massachusetts), but his response to “Brewster” remained the same in all versions.

More recently, issues have arisen regarding an organization that Jennings founded — the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). The introduction to the mission statement of GLSEN is to “to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.” This appears rather straightforward, but the rest of the mission statement and the agenda of GLSEN are causing controversy.

Certain activities and perspectives of GLSEN are raising concerns among the few who are aware of them (there has been little reporting about Jennings or GLSEN by the mainstream media). There have been charges that questionable and even pornographic materials have been included on the booklist featured  on the GLSEN website, particularly disturbing given that this booklist includes “curricula, books and video for classroom use” by teachers. In addition, GLSEN seminars have reportedly included demonstrations of sex techniques given to teenagers as young as 14 years old. 


In 2005 GLSEN organized an event at Brookline High School in Massachusetts, where explicit sexual material was left behind for the middle and high school attendees to keep. The “Little Black Book” includes a variety of how-to information, such as a section called “How Safe is Dat?” which speaks very directly about the safety of a variety of homsexual practices.  This booklet was written by the AIDS Action Committee of Boston, and includes very graphic and explicit instructions regarding gay sex.  The booklet also included a list of gay bars in the Boston area.

There are also concerns regarding Jennings' admiration for the late Harry Hay, a Communist with an association with NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association).   Jennings' previous drug use and association with Act-Up, a miltilant homosexual group, are also questionable qualifications for the  Safe Schools Czar.

The controversy surrounding Kevin Jennings is not new, and would have been easily unearthed with minimal vetting.  Once a gain we are left with the question:  Did the Obama administration simply not invest the the time to investigate the background of the Safe Schools Czar before appoointing him, or did they know about these controversies and still find him to be the best person for the job?

Comments

  • pb 5 years ago

    PLEASE

    Sign the petition to Fire Jennings and share this petition with everyone you know.

    I cannot add a link or URL here but if do a google search for "fire jennings petition" you'll find it.

  • Rev JDSpears 5 years ago

    Like so many other "scandles" that are attempted by the right, this to is still born. Jennings is perhaps the most qualified individual that President Obama could have appointed to the position he holds.

    It is shameful to attempt "quilt by association" but it is clear that is all that his detractors have!

  • derekcrane 5 years ago

    Who will keep the children (esp. the young boys) safe from the Safe Schools Czar?

  • Rev JDSpears 5 years ago

    Derekcrane: By far the more important question is: Who will protect the children, especially the boys, from the likes of you?

  • Angela Wilson 5 years ago

    I did not include the link to the "Little Black Book" because of its graphic and potentially offensive content, but it can be found very easily by reading the articles that I DID link to. This pamphlet speaks directly to issue at hand. Please be warned--it is extremely explicit.

  • Rev JDSpears 5 years ago

    Derekcrane: By far the more important question is: Who will protect the children, especially the boys, from the likes of you?

  • unimpressed 5 years ago

    It would be one thing if Jennings was caught up in some current controversy or misguided action, and these pieces of history were part of the conversation about his fitness for the job. But they're not. They're part of a smear campaign being run by folks who would trudge up "dirt" on any gay man serving in this position (unless he was a Republican, and likely closeted, and therefore a liar, which sets a great example for the nation's children...). I stand by Jenning's decisions in all the incidents mentioned, except leaving the Little Black Book behind at that particular event, which he's acknowledged was unfortunate. Those materials were never meant for youth so young. Still, even if I questioned him on these incidents as much as some of you do, I would not claim that a few controversial episodes cancel out the enormity of good Jennings has done for America's youth, in particular its often bullied, underserved, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

  • Hired News 5 years ago

    @unimpressed Questions about Jennings' record and probity do not stop being important just because he's been confirmed. His history of activism, drug abuse, and telling religious leaders to "drop dead" argue strongly against his fitness for a public office that oversees children.

    Read more about it in Obama Czar playing cards (Jennings is the three of diamonds), which you can find online at CZARDS.BIZ.

  • John "Charleston Conservative Christian Exami 5 years ago

    I think the President knew Jennings record and exactly what he was doing when he put Mr. Jennings in his position. The Presidents actions are consistent with his other left wing nominations. Remember, this President promised change and he is delivering, despite the desires of the American people who still love our freedom.

    John

  • Mr. Left 5 years ago

    There is nothing "non-partisan" about this hatchet job.

    Homophobia is always ugly and ignorant, the post says much more about the author's character deficits than it does Jennings.

  • a. mcewen 5 years ago

    Angela, about the little black book:

    "In fact, a community health group -- not GLSEN itself -- reportedly said that it had mistakenly "left about 10 copies" of the booklet on an informational table it rented at a 2005 GLSEN conference at Brookline High School in Massachusetts; the group reportedly apologized for doing so; GLSEN stated that if it had known the booklets had been at the conference, it would have demanded they be removed; and the Brookline school superintendent reportedly said he believed no students had actually taken the book."

    All of answers to the claims about Jennings can be answered at Media Matters.

  • FBowman 5 years ago

    RevJD. I bet Jennings is gone by 1st quarter next year. It will be 3 down and 100 to go. This guy doesn't qualify to be Safe School Czar. That's being light on him. Let me be heavy. He's a sick pervert and should be shot for inflicting any of this on other peoples children. If he hasn't done it yet, he will. It's in his stated agenda.

  • Angela Wilson 5 years ago

    @ A. Mcewan-- I understand your point. My concern is that as the organizer of the event, Jennings should have had more control over the materials distributed/left behind. Will his lack of detail and control result in a similar situation nationwide in our public schools?

    Media Matters leans far left and I don't find it to be reliable.

    @ Mr. Left -- I would have the same concerns if graphic material about heterosexual practices had been distributed.

  • American Citizen 5 years ago

    This is the last person (who isn't a registered sex offender, a current super-max inmate or an on-the-street, yet-to-be-caught practising felon) who should be a so-called "Safe Schools" czar. The LAST person.

    The true colors of this administration and its supporting political party are proving to be far more hideous and obscene than most thought were even possible. Can't wait to learn more about the rest of these 'closet-communist-czars.' Surely the skeletons waiting in their closets are loaded to the craniums with the ugliest of anti-American, anti-common sense, anti-freedom, anti-fairness, immoral, hypocritical, paranoid control freak and Godless secrets. Probably every last one of them.

    "Change we can believe in???"

    More like unmitigated madness to me, from Congress to the Ovomit Office itself.

  • meatbrain 5 years ago

    "Media Matters leans far left and I don't find it to be reliable."

    What Angela meant to say was: "The facts that Media Matters has revealed about the multiple smears perpetrated against Kevin Jennings are extremely inconvenient, so I will simply ignore those facts." This is, of course, the standard tactic adopted by wingnuts when the facts do not rearrange themselves to match the smear du jour.

    If Angela Wilson has any factual information that contradicts what Media Matters has provided, let her present them here. So far, all she has are warmed-over fairy tales.

  • Angela Wilson 5 years ago

    @meatbrain--Here is the information that Media Matters provides about itself on their website...

    "Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media."

    They are a PROGRESSIVE organization, and work toward correcting conservative "misinformation". It sounds to me like they have a dog in this fight, since progressive and conservative viewpoints are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

  • meatbrain 5 years ago

    Lookie! Angela can cut'n'paste text from a website. Good girl. Have a biscuit.

    What Angela cannot do is provide any factual information that contradicts what Media Matters has provided. Angela is a willing participant in the effort to smear Kevin Jennings.

    We are left to wonder when Angela Wilson will apologize to her readers for her part in this farce.

  • Patriot 5 years ago

    Jennings is a sick, twisted pervert and peddling his pornographic materials to children should land him in prison. The fact that he wants to FORCE it upon every child in America without parental consent should land him in the electric chair. What a piece of human excrement he is, and Obama "surrounds himself" with debris like this!