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Kevin Jennings: Not a Public Figure who Promotes a Favorable Image of Gay People

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:00 pm - October 1, 2009.
Filed under: Gay America

At the end of my post yesterday on Kevin Jennings the openly Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, I indicated that I would reconsider my call for his resignation should evidence emerge that he had previously acknowledged his “wrongdoing,” by which I meant his failure to report a teenager’s sexual relationship with an adult.  There is no evidence to suggest he ever even discouraged the boy from continuing his sexual relationship with the older man. 

Even in a piece at left-leaning (but even-handed) Queerty critical of how conservative media has treated Jennings, they are concerned by the Obama appointee’s silence:

 If Jennings “technically” had a legal obligation to report the incident, he should have. His CV is impressive, and sounds like it qualifies him for the “safe school czar” job under Obama. But it’s an insufficient answer to why, as a teacher to young people, he did not attempt to intervene to stop an underage boy from continuing an unhealthy sexual relationship — and keep that boy from becoming a victim.

While I do believe Jennings acted inappropriately in 1988 when the student approached him, I did want to cut the guy some slack for something he did early in his career.  Had he expressed some regret long before he became politically active, it would add a different dimension to his past conduct.  It would show this action as an aberration in an otherwise distinguished career.

But, now information has come forward suggesting that Jennings’s conduct was not an aberration, but part of a career suggesting a greater concern for the sexual liberation ideology of one segment of the gay movement than for the welfare of students.  That ideology has led to reluctance of many gay activists, apparently including Jennings, to never discourage any form of sexual expression, even that involving minors.

It is a very good — and indeed essential thing–to teach children to develop a healthy attitude toward sexuality.   And to that end, I favor responsible sex education courses in middle and high schools, including abstinence education (but not “abstinence only”)* provided parents are aware of the content of that curriculum.  Yet, it seems Mr. Jennings advocates bypassing that parental approval.

Not just that, he has spoken warmly (on multiple occasions) of Harry Hay, a pioneering gay activist who happened to be an active member “of the North American Association for Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which promotes the legalization of sexual abuse of young boys by older men.”  Now, his praise of Hay does mean that he agreed with everything Hay had done or said.  But, coupled with his silence on the student who reported his liaison with an adult, it does indicate a relatively blasé action toward sexual relationships between children and adults.

There are simply too many unanswered questions about his attitudes toward sex education and sexual relationships between adults and children.  With most gay people opposing sex with minors, shouldn’t we want to see gay people in positions of leadership on education, showing the same attitude to such relationships as would a straight adult?  Do we want to provide further ammunition to social conservatives, as eager as left-wing bloggers are with conservatives, to define us by our most extreme elements?

Most gay people do not condone the type of relationship Jennings appeared to countenance when he did nothing to discourage that student from having sex with an older man.

That’s not the kind of person we want in the Department of Education, least of all in an office responsible for safe schools.  Nor the kind of gay man gay people should want to hold a prominent role in government.

*If readers would like me to elaborate on the difference between abstinence education and abstinence only education, I would be delighted to do so.

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58 Comments

  1. Maybe I missed something. I thought Jennings commented, after the fact, that he hoped that Brewster used a condom. So that in addition to being molested, he at least wasn’t also subjected to a greater chance of acquiring HIV and/or other diseases.

    Yes, you missed something. To the liberal there is only the physical body and health is the only God. They have completely obliterated the soul.
    As long as Jennings mentioned a condom, really what more is needed?

    Comment by Leah — October 2, 2009 @ 11:43 am - October 2, 2009

  2. FACT None of the information you have on this “molestaton” or “child abuse” come from anything other than Jennings own account. You have no proof that the “victim” in this “child molestation” was underage, Jennings later maintains he was 16 and therefore able to consent.

    Again, all anyone in this page or others is able to contend is a vague narrative to feed into their own biased views of gays as advocates of child molestors and pedophiles. Beyond Jennings own account, you have no proof of child molestation, laws being broken or the like. You have no proof of this kid’s age. You have no proof of the age of the other consenting party. You have no proof Jennings was even aware of the law, or that teachers were made aware of their legal responsibilities to report what he didn’t even know at the time was a crime or not. Yet, you have no qualms about throwing around accusations of child molestation, NAMBLA associations and stereotypes of pedophilia of gays.

    Nevermind the fat of the HUGE gray area in this case which so many of you completely dismiss in favor of the witch hunting of this man, it’s all black and white apparently when it’s someone you don’t agree with politically. I would love to see some of you defend your jobs against charges of laws you probably didn’t even know existed 21 years ago. I would also LOVE to see some of you even try to prosecute a court case based upon the “evidence” presented, which most have taken to extrapolate an extreme scenario of NAMBLA proportions when you have no evidence of the ages of the participants involved, the actions, the circumstances or motivations.

    Comment by Tim — October 2, 2009 @ 1:00 pm - October 2, 2009

  3. Yes, you missed something. To the liberal there is only the physical body and health is the only God. They have completely obliterated the soul.
    As long as Jennings mentioned a condom, really what more is needed?

    Leah, I may have missed something. I’m just have no idea what your statement, while fine, and another opportunity to slap liberals, had anything to do with my point.

    My only issue with the ‘he could have committed suicide’ argument is that it’s speculative. He could have found out that his parents supported him. He could have used it as a catalyst to been something great.

    Agreed, Livewire. It is speculative, just as Ashpenaz’s scenario was as well.

    Comment by Pat — October 2, 2009 @ 1:36 pm - October 2, 2009

  4. It was about 20 years ago, I had a friend whose 15 year old brother was the victim of an attempted sexual assault in a public park by an older male, but he fought off his attacker and informed the police.

    Ironically, if something like that happened today, my friends brother would probably be charged with a “Hate Crime.”

    Comment by V the K — October 2, 2009 @ 2:47 pm - October 2, 2009

  5. Beyond Jennings own account

    That’s the point, Tim. We aren’t making sh*t up; we are going by Jennings’ own accounts, the most favorable possible accounts.

    You have no proof of this kid’s age.

    On the contrary. By Jennings’ own accounts, he was 15 or certainly no older than 16. Either age makes him still – yes – A KID. (You have said it.)

    You have no proof Jennings was even aware of the law or that teachers were made aware of their legal responsibilities to report

    Ignorance of the law is not accepted or recognized, by the law, as an excuse for breaking it. As for teachers, one of the most highly trained professions there is, being unaware of their most basic legal responsbilities? GET. REAL. If it were true that Jennings were unaware, in 1988, of his responsibilities under a 1973 law in his State: then Jennings should be disqualified from his “Czar” post for that alone. I.e., for proof of his inherent incompetence.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — October 2, 2009 @ 3:03 pm - October 2, 2009

  6. Ok, I have to say it, Tim disgusts me. His attempts to excuse and justify the assault of the older man on the kid is just repulsive. I can understand (if not agree) with arguements put forth by Pat and others, but Tim’s defense not only of Jenning’s inaction but the actions of the predator disgust me.

    Comment by The_Livewire — October 2, 2009 @ 9:31 pm - October 2, 2009

  7. […] I may or may not blog again on the case of Kevin Jennings.  I do have another post in my mind, but it’s basically just an expansion on a point I made in my last post on the topic. […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » On the “gray” areas of sexual expression and marriage — October 4, 2009 @ 7:18 pm - October 4, 2009

  8. Thanks for the clarification, Pat. Now I understand where you’re coming from.
    I do know that I’m this guy’s age, +/-3 years. My dad said that if I brought home a guy, he’d try to be supportive but wasn’t sure if it could.
    My only issue with the ‘he could have committed suicide’ argument is that it’s speculative. He could have found out that his parents supported him. He could have used it as a catalyst to been something great.
    Or the bus stop predator could have strangled him, or he could have caught HIV or something. Too many variables.

    Comment by CL — October 5, 2009 @ 2:53 am - October 5, 2009

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