This past month, Michelle Malkin has joined other conservatives in pointing out that Kevin Jennings (who happens to be gay), the Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, had, as a young teacher, done nothing to protect of a 15-year old boy from who had told him he was having an affair with an adult (male). That is, Jennings did not report this to authorities. (Nor did he, as far as I can tell, confront the man.)
Today, for the first time (as far as I can figure out), he publicly expressed regret for his inaction:
Twenty-one years later I can see how I should have handled this situation differently. I should have asked for more information and consulted legal or medical authorities. Teachers back then had little training and guidance about this kind of thing. All teachers should have a basic level of preparedness. I would like to see the office of Safe & Drug Free Schools play a bigger role in helping to prepare teachers.
It is troubling, to say the least, that the Administration would tap such a man to serve in the Education Department who detailed the boy’s confession in a book One Teacher in 10, yet did not express regret until long after his appointment.*
The same people who got so worked up (and rightfully so) at the silence of the Catholic Church in the wake of similar conduct among its clergy are silent in the wake of Mr. Jennings’s own silence. (I guess for such things to excite outrage, the “enabler” must come from a class of those sanctioned for condemnation.)
While Jennings’s wrong pales in comparison to that of the man having sex with the teenager, he still behaved badly, especially given that he was a teacher at the time. And while it’s generally a good thing to have openly gay people serving in government, Jennings’s prominence does more to hurt the public image of gay people than it does to help it.
He should resign his position immediately, saying why he believes his past actions disqualify him for the job, particularly given his 21-year delay in expressing regret. Most gay men neither engage in sexual activity with minors nor condone it, but all too many of us seem all too reticent when it comes to condemning it publicly. We should not be so silent.
With his resignation, Jennings could make a strong statement, saying we need speak out on such matters and addressing how such relationships harm the boys sexually involved with older men.
*(If, however, it comes out that Jennings had previously acknowledged his wrongdoing, then I will reconsider the call for his resignation.)