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Thoughts on Kevin Jennings & the GLSEN Reading List

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:56 am - December 5, 2009.
Filed under: Blogging,Gay America

A number of our readers have e-mailed Bruce and me, asking for our commentary on the latest revelation about Kevin Jennings, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools.  As Michelle Malkin put it in introducing her post on the story,

Doing the investigative work the dinosaur, Obama-enabling media won’t do, Scott Baker and a collaborative research team have waded through the sexually explicit reading list endorsed by safe schools czar Kevin Jennings and the group he founded — GLSEN.

For the record, I had been in a communication with a representative of that team and have been aware of the story well before it hit the blogs.  They have done their homework, identifying numerous sexually explicit passages in a reading list Jennings helped design for children in Grades 7-12.

As I read those passages, I recalled the numerous gay novels I had read after I completed my own novel.  What struck me about most gay fiction was not only its self-pitying nature, but the poor writing, the lack of introspection and the absence of character development.  They all seemed to define their sexuality by its sexual expression.  Only a handful (notably the eloquent Jim Grimsley) wrote convincingly about non-sexual longing and emotional intimacy.  Most included gratuitous and graphic descriptions of sexual activity.

And the books on Jennings’ list were no different:

Book after book after book contained stories and anecdotes that weren’t merely X-rated and pornographic, but which featured explicit descriptions of sex acts between pre-schoolers; stories that seemed to promote and recommend child-adult sexual relationships; stories of public masturbation, anal sex in restrooms, affairs between students and teachers, five-year-olds playing sex games, semen flying through the air.

But, would I go as far as the authors of the report to say the books has less to do with “promoting tolerance” than they did with indoctrinating “students into a hyper-sexualized worldview”?  It may be, but I don’t know.  I haven’t read the passages in context of the books in which they appear.

Now, there is nothing wrong with sexual activity nor is there anything wrong to writing about it.  (I do, however, contend that it rarely enhances a work of literature.  If you don’t believe me, just go read some of the classics of Western literature (prior to James Joyce) and see how they writing about human sexuality, its complexity and its expression without describing the sex act.  But, this is a matter for another conversation and another post.)

Indeed, one could include a sexually explicit passage in a novel about developing a mature attitude toward sexuality.  One could show how a young gay man moves from expressing his sexuality in pure sexual terms, but evolves to understand the emotions behind the sexual attraction, that, in being drawn to a particular man’s body, he slowly begins to appreciate him for what lies beneath the skin.

Now, presenting that emotional journey may well make for a good novel, but is it appropriate to encourage for schoolchildren to read such descriptions?  Maybe for kids older than sixteen (tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades), but clearly not for students in Middle School (or their first year of high school in some states).

As we ask that question, let me pose another that the other conservative bloggers who have picked up the story have not considered:  is this the image of homosexuality we want to promote to adolescents struggling with sexual feelings of which they are just becoming aware? Of course, to get at this question whether or not those books present a more complex picture of sexuality, we’d have to look at the sexually explicit passages in context of the novels in which they are written.

And that is an endeavor in which I do not at present wish to engage myself.  Just reading the various passages reminded me how much “work” I found it to read gay fiction.

Now, to be sure, GLSEN contains an interesting disclaimer (in red) on its page recommending the books:

All BookLink items are reviewed by GLSEN staff for quality and appropriateness of content. However, some titles for adolescent readers contain mature themes. We recommend that adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability. The editorial and customer reviews listed at Amazon.com often provide information on mature content.

This disclaimer seems at odds with itself. They have been reviewed for quality and appropriateness, but they do recommend further review for suitability.  It almost seems someone didn’t do his homework.  I thought they were supposed to have reviewed the books.  Interesting what they consider appropriate content for twelve and thirteen year olds.

All that said, I don’t know that this is a much of a scandal as some of my conservative fellows are making it out to be.  But, taken in context of what we know about Kevin Jennings, it doesn’t look good for the Obama appointee.  And it does nothing to shake my belief that the best thing he could for the gay community would be to resign his position in the Education Department.

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51 Comments

  1. This disclaimer seems at odds with itself. They have been reviewed for quality and appropriateness, but they do recommend further review for suitability.

    Yes. How can a recommendation have been reviewed and approved for “appropriateness” but still need review/approval for “suitability”? What is the difference that Jennings would want me to grasp?

    we’d have to look at the sexually explicit passages in context of the novels in which they are written.

    The report’s use of a passage from _Reflections of a Rock Lobster_ (which I read in my twenties) strikes me as straightforward and in reasonable context. Score one for the report. I can’t speak to its other selections.

    All that said, I don’t know that this is a much of a scandal as some of my conservative fellows are making it out to be.

    Sexual books (books that normalize, embody or arouse a hypersexual view of life) just aren’t suitable classroom material before college. Doesn’t Jennings know that?

    In the 90s I was part of a speakers’ bureau that went into high schools and answered questions about being gay. The idea was to increase tolerance, like “Here are some real-life gay people, they aren’t out to get you.” The group’s policy (which I always saw carried out, in my speaking engagements) was never to be sexually explicit in high schools. In a college class on human sexuality where the question was asked: OK. But never in high schools.

    The disturbing motif that seems to keep popping up in Jennings’ history – this and the whole “Brewster” incident – is his desire to encourage kids to be indiscriminately sexual, not only with each other but with adults. Yuck!

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 5, 2009 @ 4:31 am - December 5, 2009

  2. ILC, I had a thought similar to yours when I first read the report:

    For the record, I had been in a communication with a representative of that team and have been aware of the story well before it hit the blogs. They have done their homework, identifying numerous sexually explicit passages in a reading list Jennings helped design for children in Grades 7-12.

    Please note my frequent use of the conditional above. And my belief that parents should sign off on sexual explicit material to which their children are exposed when said children are minors.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — December 5, 2009 @ 5:53 am - December 5, 2009

  3. Understood. I was questioning Jennings, not you.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 5, 2009 @ 6:33 am - December 5, 2009

  4. I think the Genie was out of the bottle w/Judy Blume, but I agree that there are some things inappropriate.

    Just curious, have you ever read Mercedes Lackey’s Fantasy? Some of her characters are gay, but to me it seems she does a good job of making it a component of their identity, not the definition.

    Comment by The_Livewire — December 5, 2009 @ 7:04 am - December 5, 2009

  5. Amazingly enough, I was never assigned anything racier than Romeo & Juliet in High School. Who do I sue for this shocking deprivation? ;-)

    Best wishes,
    -MFS

    Comment by MFS — December 5, 2009 @ 7:53 am - December 5, 2009

  6. [...] Network). I am linking Media Matters version of it, and what one gay conservative blogger, Gay Patriot, has to say, but no links with the very graphic descriptions of content. This time, I don’t [...]

    Pingback by What Sex-Ed is Becoming (And Why Some People Home-School) « my treasure — December 5, 2009 @ 8:30 am - December 5, 2009

  7. is this the image of homosexuality we want to promote to adolescents struggling with sexual feelings of which they are just becoming aware?

    Is homosexuality one of the great themes of literature? Did Holden Caulfied’s recitation to his shrink in The Catcher in the Rye help adolescents cope with their stormy teen age years? Do English teachers have some sort of special talent for group therapy? Isn’t it time to accept Huckleberry Finn for the great American novel that it is? Why does political correctness promote the homosexuality theme while pretending that “the ‘n’ word” is nuclear?

    Dan, your point asking if “we want to promote” goes to the heart of social activism. As a scholar of literature, I am certain you can create an outstanding reading list for schools that would explore the great themes in life and literature. What one book would you consider using that has references to homosexuality? And doesn’t NAMBLA have a registered and pedigreed dog for this fight?

    Comment by heliotrope — December 5, 2009 @ 9:47 am - December 5, 2009

  8. Schools regularly teach books that contain sexually explicit material
    Regularly used books such as Catcher in the Rye, Color Purple, 1984, Of Mice and Men contain sexually explicit passages. Many classic novels include sexually explicit material. The American Library Association notes on its website that many of the top 100 novels of the 20th century have been the subject of objections over issues such as “sexual references,” “sexually explicit passages,” “rape,” “masturbation,” “bestiality,” “explicit sex scenes,” and “trashy sex.” These titles include books regularly taught in schools, such as Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple, Beloved, Lord of the Flies, 1984, Of Mice and Men, Brave New World, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Rabbit, Run.
    http://mediamatters.org/research/200912040041

    Conservative blogs have claimed that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings is unfit as “Safe Schools Czar” because he supposedly promoted “child porn” by allowing an education organization he founded to recommend for students in grades 7-12 books that included sexually explicit content. The organization, however, specifically stated on its book list website that “some titles for adolescent readers contain mature themes” and recommended that “adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability”; further, schools regularly teach books that contain sexually explicit material.

    Comment by rusty — December 5, 2009 @ 11:28 am - December 5, 2009

  9. Rusty those classics you mentioned may refer to sexual acts, but not a single one goes far into the descriptions that these books do.
    As a young teenager, I read “A Seperate Peace”, I didn’t get it, I didn’t understand until much latter that the two boys were homosexual. I just remember feeling very unsettled and sorry that I read the book.

    I am so sick and tired of our liberal society demanding that children lose their innocence about all things sexual practically from when they are born. Meanwhile these same adults are shirking every true adult responsibility in life.

    Comment by Leah — December 5, 2009 @ 12:59 pm - December 5, 2009

  10. Kevin Jennings – the Safe Schools Czar…Interesting dialogue that is always thought provoking. The US Government used to have the War Department in charge of Indian Affairs. Humm…the same people who were fighing the Natives were also in charge of “taking care” of the Natives – seems like an oxymoronic situation. What is the deal with Obama putting people in charge of departments whose history seem to be a odds with the Mission. Tax Cheats involved with tax payer money? Etc., Etc.

    Comment by Duffy - Native Intelligence — December 5, 2009 @ 1:13 pm - December 5, 2009

  11. It’s part of the ‘lets all be sheep, and let the wise ones lead us’ of liberalism.

    Comment by The_Livewire — December 5, 2009 @ 1:13 pm - December 5, 2009

  12. Why can’t the people pushing sexually-explicit literature on schoolkids understand that they are merely reinforcing the idea that gay people’s lives are all about sex, and that being gay concerns nothing but what one does sexually?

    They have a blind spot as big as the asteroid in “Armageddon.”

    There are gay Christian books that are not sexually explicit, and there are certainly lesbian books that deal with all those gooey things like feelings and family and humor. Surely there must be books for gay men that treat of non-sexual subjects, though since the demise of our local gay bookstore I’m not as up on such things as I used to and can’t be sure.

    When public libraries or bookstores try to ban gay Christian books as porn, gays are very justified in complaining about it. We’re going to lose the right to make justified complaints if we look the other way when genuinely obscene material is being pushed on schoolkids.

    Comment by Lori Heine — December 5, 2009 @ 1:23 pm - December 5, 2009

  13. Rusty, anything cited on media matters must first be fact-checked, given their eagerness to tear conservatives down.

    And please bear in mind Leah’s comment which relates to the aside in my post on classic literature. I would daresay most of those books referenced sexuality without explicitly describing the sexual act.

    Having read nearly every book you identified, I can’t recall a scene as explicit as the ones described in the post I liked–save perhaps in The Color Purple. And that people objected to these books before suggest that the objections raised to Jennings’ list is nothing new. So, it’s not an anti-gay thing.

    Maybe if the folks at Media Matters did their homework, they could show up the particular passages from those books so as to better make their point.

    I would wonder if Jennings could have created a different list for Middle Schoolers, but to be honest, I think that one would be very small, given what I said above about the frequency of sexually explicit scenes in gay fiction (Hey, maybe there’s a post in that!)

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — December 5, 2009 @ 2:01 pm - December 5, 2009

  14. I’m writing a series of novels for gay and lesbian Christians right now and am fairly far along with it. It deals with the lives of members of a fictitious gay church in Phoenix. I never even considered making these books sexually explicit, because that would be totally inappropriate for my target readership and they would consider it out-of-place.

    People who try to slip obscene literature into schools are the bane of existence for writers like me who want to un-couple sex from gay literature. If they are successful at this, it will besmirch every gay writer. I support the efforts of people who refuse to let that sort of thing slip through.

    Comment by Lori Heine — December 5, 2009 @ 2:59 pm - December 5, 2009

  15. How can one bitch about everyone supposedly being in their bedroom and yet fight tooth and nail for the “right” to invite everyone?

    Sexualizing school children. The gay left scoffs and derides SoCons and/or the eeeeeevil “Religious Right” bogeymen when they complain about it. However they keep right on doing it?

    “Oh, but teaching kids about the joys of prostitution and having sex with adults is no different than The Lord of the Flies!”

    HUH?!?! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Next I suppose they’ll try to convince us that Paddington and Curious George is all about beastiality.

    Way to go, MediaF*ckingMorons and the mindless douchebags who read that site for the intellectually challenged.

    Sorry Rusty. There’s just no way you can put a dress on pedophilia and call it purty.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — December 5, 2009 @ 3:15 pm - December 5, 2009

  16. I can recall reading books in school over 20 years ago that were “controversial” for their time when it came to sex, but nothing like what I skimmed through at the link you provided. Perhaps something is lost without the full context, I dunno, but they seem clear enough to me. This looks like very inappropriate material for schoolkids regardless of the type of sexual activity being graphically described. Now, will many of the older teens find this online or from other sources? Absolutely. Yet the schools shouldn’t be used to peddle what is essentiall “soft porn”.

    If you don’t believe me, just go read some of the classics of Western literature (prior to James Joyce) and see how they writing about human sexuality, its complexity and its expression without describing the sex act.

    I think that a description of sex to a point can serve a novel at times, but it depends upon the reason the author is doing so and their skill because when they do so they run the risk of turning their book into nothing more than smut. Smut is easy to find if one chooses to do so, a well-written book that makes a deep impression on folks is all the more rare. Still, they are out there. Personally I’d add violence to this discussion as well because like Hollywood it seems that sex and violence are nothing more than devices to fill in for a poor plot.

    Comment by John — December 5, 2009 @ 5:19 pm - December 5, 2009

  17. There is difference between a work which happens to have sex in it – referencing sexual relationships or episodes, perhaps even in very explicit terms – and a work which, as I put it earlier, -seeks to normalize, embody or stimulate a hypersexual view of life-. (A view that life is largely or essentially “about” promiscuous sex and the seeking of erotic gratification.) There is a time and place for exposing people to the latter kind of work. It’s called college (or adult life).

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — December 5, 2009 @ 7:08 pm - December 5, 2009

  18. it seems that sex and violence are nothing more than devices to fill in for a poor plot

    Well said, John, very well said. That is very often the case, particularly with sex and gay fiction.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — December 5, 2009 @ 7:28 pm - December 5, 2009

  19. It reinforces every bad stereotype straight people have about gay people. Gay people are promiscuous. Gay people like lots of anonymous sex. Gay people are trying to make our children gay. Gay people are perverted.

    If you don’t want that stereotype, then you cannot make reading lists for children that express all those ideas. Period. Full Stop.

    Comment by Amy K. — December 5, 2009 @ 8:09 pm - December 5, 2009

  20. In addition, I don’t know what the general childhood sexual experience is with gay people or even if there is one, but some of these passages that I read make them all out to be sexual predators preying on all their little friends. If I were a straight middle schooler, this would not make me more tolerant. It would give me a fear and revulsion of anyone I suspected of being gay.

    Comment by Amy K. — December 5, 2009 @ 8:12 pm - December 5, 2009

  21. My exposure to gay novels is quite limited as I am not gay but I have thought for many years that the Mary Renault’s novel “The mask of Apollo” is the most sympathetic and romantic image of gay love I have seen in literature. It is not explicit but does have a largely gay theme with some references to the physical aspects. For those unfamiliar with it, it is about an actor in Classical Greece. The theater aspects are also well researched, I’ve read.

    Comment by Mike K — December 5, 2009 @ 11:51 pm - December 5, 2009

  22. I am straight and I remember middle school. I had the dubious experience of reading Gary Jennings’s “Aztec” at age 12. Aztec features incest between children as a plot driver. There’s also a few scenes with adults and kids in there. That was one book that squicked me out.

    The sex parts weren’t even necessary. If most of that is taken out; it’s a cracking story, well-researched, and concerns a fascinating lost world.

    But it’s not for kids. I wish I’d waited until, I dunno, 16 at least; there were other books which would have been better for me 12-15. And Jennings’s recommendations sound like they’re cut from the same mould.

    Comment by David Ross — December 6, 2009 @ 12:05 am - December 6, 2009

  23. [...] Dan Blatt observes that gay fiction frequently leaves the same impression as the titles on the GLSEN list: They all seemed to define their sexuality by its sexual expression.  Only a handful (notably the eloquent Jim Grimsley) wrote convincingly about non-sexual longing and emotional intimacy.  Most included gratuitous and graphic descriptions of sexual activity. [...]

    Pingback by GLSEN & The Normalization of Sexual Abuse : Jenn Q. Public — December 6, 2009 @ 3:32 am - December 6, 2009

  24. My god we’re back to this again. Finding obscure references and passages in obscure reading lists from decades ago… No wonder people aren’t hopping to the GOP when we still seem to be so Puritanical in our views of sexual relationships.

    I think you’d be hard pressed to show those sexual scenes being the centerpieces of any of those books. Sexual relationships are just one aspect of a person, and I’d venture to say most of those books show multiple sides to those characters. Like it or not for the greater part of human history no one exists solely as a non sexual being until their 18th birthday. Instead of instilling some crucifixion scene in children so they are fucked up in the head about sex if they happen to engage in anything before being an “adult”, I would rather sexual relationships at least explained or discussed. I would rather they at least get some sort of normalization of gays, instead of the complete silence most here would rather have.

    Most gays grow up with no gay role models or people to teach them about sex, imposed partly because of conservative archetypes of monogamy and chastity. I think the shame and guilt imposed by religion and the right on gays does far more to harm our psyches than any 2 page passage in a library book. But you’d rather find that and remove it than face real issues like whether abstinence only education is actually effective. Let’s be adults here and have a real discussion about issues that matter instead of harping on obscure shit that no one cares about and you will have no effect on changing.

    Ok, commence with extracting your own view of what I mean instead of what I actually wrote and calling me a chimo.

    Comment by Tim — December 6, 2009 @ 12:35 pm - December 6, 2009

  25. My Homosexual reading list:

    1 Samuel
    The Book of Ruth
    Gilgamesh
    The Iliad
    Shakespeare’s sonnets
    Women in Love D. H. Lawrence
    Leaves of Grass “Calamus” poems Whitman
    My Antonia Cather
    Maurice Forster
    Brideshead Revisted Waugh
    The Ambassadors James
    Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Williams
    The Ballad of the Sad Cafe McCullers
    The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea Mishima
    De Profundis Wilde
    Collected Poems Auden
    The Seven Pillars of Wisdom T. E. Lawrence
    Moby Dick and Billy Budd Melville
    Collected Poems Gerard Manley Hopkins

    Get rid of the crap off the Gay/Lesbian Lit shelf and read these classics to know what homosexuality is really about.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — December 6, 2009 @ 1:00 pm - December 6, 2009

  26. A thought that struck me while reading through the samples from the GLSEN reading list:

    In the opening minutes of John Waters’ Desperate Living, there’s a scene where a suburban housewife in the midst of a nervous breakdown opens a bedroom door and discovers her two youngest children (a boy and a girl somewhere in the age range of 5 -7 years old) are sitting on the floor naked, obviously “playing doctor.”

    The mom reacts to this by running out of the house into the front yard and screaming hysterically, “Dear God in heaven, THE CHILDREN ARE HAVING SEX!”

    Obviously, the scene is played for comedy and the point is to help establish that the housewife (played by Waters regular Mink Stole) is not just neurotic, but totally off her rocker.

    Yet in several of these GLSEN books, children as young as five or six are described by the autobiographical narrator as “having sex” (rather than “playing doctor”) — not in the spirit of farcical comedy, however, nor as proof that the author is as batshit crazy as Mink Stole’s character, but rather, it’s supposed to be REFRESHINGLY COURAGEOUS CANDOR.

    Comment by Throbert McGee — December 6, 2009 @ 1:10 pm - December 6, 2009

  27. Another book you might like, Ashpenaz, is Mary Renault’s The Charioteer — which deals with a love triangle among two military men and one handsome conscientious objector in WWII Britain. Among other themes, it affirms that there’s no self-loathing paradox in totally accepting one’s own homosexuality while disdaining the demimonde’s notion of “Gay Identity.”

    (It also suggests that the proper response to a Really Cute Guy who’s conflicted about his orientation is to leave him be, rather than mooning over him in perpetuity.)

    Comment by Throbert McGee — December 6, 2009 @ 1:25 pm - December 6, 2009

  28. Tim, a couple of points.

    First, as t your first ¶, this is not an obscure reading list from decades ago, but is current. I accessed it as I was writing this post (Friday night/Saturay morning). Have no clue what your gratuitous slap on GOP has to do with my post, particularly given what I said above. Which leads me to my next point.

    Did you actually read my post? Or, as your basing your comments on what other conservative bloggers have said. Twice, I noted (and deliberately so, expecting comments like yours) that we needed to see the passages in context. So, what you say in your second ¶ roughly corresponds with a point I made above.

    You’re half right in your 3rd ¶ and I couldn’t agree with you more strongly about the paucity of role models most gay people have. But, what’s wrong in teaching gay guys about monogamy at chastity? Those concepts are not inherently at odds with homosexuality. Why can’t a gay man should wait until he finds someone special with whom to be sexually monogamous.

    The second part of that ¶ indicates you didn’t read my post as I address the complexity of sexuality above.

    My, my, my, you do have a need to vent. I offer a post where I build on an issue brought up in the conservative blogosphere and you rant against the post you wish I had written so as to better attack this blog.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — December 6, 2009 @ 1:36 pm - December 6, 2009

  29. Hey, Dan — I just recently two comments that apparently got swallowed by the filter: one about Mary Renault’s The Charioteer and one about Aaron Fricke’s Reflections of a Rock Lobster. Can you check when you have the chance?

    Comment by Throbert McGee — December 6, 2009 @ 1:55 pm - December 6, 2009

  30. Oops! Nemmind about The Charioteer!

    Comment by Throbert McGee — December 6, 2009 @ 1:56 pm - December 6, 2009

  31. Thanks for the recommendation of The Charioteer, Throbert. I see that Mary Renault has a lot of historical fiction books which is a genre I enjoy. Methinks I’ll give this one a try…

    Comment by John — December 6, 2009 @ 2:32 pm - December 6, 2009

  32. John: The Charioteer is, AFAIK, the only one of Mary Renault’s gay-themed novels to be set in modern times rather than antiquity, and along with this, the only one that presents the modern notion of fully egalitarian homosexuality among adult men.

    The three guys are of similar age (the oldest of the three does become sort of a big-brother figure at times, but definitely not a father-surrogate, let alone a pederast in search of a catamite). And unlike in E.M. Forster’s Maurice, there are no British class-chasms involved. (At least, none that I can recall noticing as an American reader.)

    Comment by Throbert McGee — December 6, 2009 @ 3:37 pm - December 6, 2009

  33. Dan,

    Thanks for responding. I was trying to get away from the regular “oh liberals are crazy sex attacks and pedofiles” thing you guys have going here. Forgive me, I know it’s a good mantra, but it’s getting sort of stale.

    [Huh? What? In this blog? In my posts? Where? Please provide links to things I have written. Thanks.]

    I think a far better discussion, since this is also a gay blog, would be to look at why you think monogamy must be the ideal that is taught. Your fundamental problem seems to be that we aren’t teaching gay people to keep it in their pants until some sort of gay marriage I guess? Or until they reach 18? Maybe you should define your terms I’d have a better position to argue them. Should we all be in exclusive monogamous relationships our whole lives? Are the slutty gays the bad ones? Would you consider polyamorous relationships? I’m just trying to get the perspective here, since it seems that is what the post is based off of, your disagreement that we should be offering alternate views of sexual relationships.

    [Tim, don’t tell e what my fundamental problem is until you take the time to actually read my posts. Did I saw that we should teach gay people to keep it in their pants until they’re married? No. Go read my posts before asking questions which only betray your ignorance. I believe that monogamy is the ideal and don’t take seriously any gay marriage advocate who refuses to discuss monogamy or wants to dispense with it as a part of marriage. That said, I understand that monogamy may not be for everyone and have said as much on this blog.]

    I know when your readers email you waiting for more shrieking about “porn” and gays, you feel the need to jump on it and rehash the same line. But I think it’d be a far better discussion to look actually examine the scarlet A’s you are branding on people and why. Just assuming monogamy and branding anything else pornography really isn’t a far assessment of the situation, and it doesn’t add much to it.

    [The very tone of this paragraph suggests a prejudiced attitude toward my readers. None were shrieking. All, and yes, I mean all, were merely curious, wanting to hear my thoughts on this, so I gave them. Please show me the “scarlet A’s” I’m branding on anyone. Amazing your narrow-mindedness of that last sentence as you assume I think everything must be either monogamy or pornography. It just goes to show that no matter what I saw, people like you will just see what they want to see. In your narrow view, it doesn’t add much to the debate, but, well, if you actually read my post before offering your interpretation, you might see that I recognize the complexity of our sexuality–an issue I have addressed numerous times on the blog, but you demand I provide some answers for you which you could find for yourself if you merely read my archives–or even the post to which you attach your comment.]

    Maybe it’s too much to think a gay conservative blog would do more than parrot shrieking calls for denouncement of current events and actually facilitate analysis of all these complexities that going into homosexuality, our society, politics etc. Hopefully not.

    [Parrot “shrieking calls”? Huh? Why don’t you actually read my post and note the word I use three times in the text above, “context,” a word I used in my reply to your previous comment. And after you’d read my post and see where I differentiate my views from most conservatives addressing this issue, I do trust you’ll acknowledge the hasty evaluation you made of the piece and the errors of judgment you made in commenting to it.

    Why, must folk like you, paint all conservatives with a broad brush, seeing us as you want to see us? For I have long since begun that analysis, acknowledging those complexities. It’s all their in this post and in my archives, but it seem prejudiced folk like yourself are just not open to looking for it and to listen.

    Your intolerance amazes me–Dan]

    Comment by Tim — December 6, 2009 @ 4:38 pm - December 6, 2009

  34. And then there’s this:

    All BookLink items are reviewed by GLSEN staff for quality and appropriateness of content. However, some titles for adolescent readers contain mature themes. We recommend that adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability. The editorial and customer reviews listed at Amazon.com often provide information on mature content.

    Comment by Tim — December 6, 2009 @ 4:45 pm - December 6, 2009

  35. It amazes me that such trash is being peddled as a way to promote ‘safe’ schools. So this is what is means to be the Safe Schools Czar. No wonder we scare people.

    I agree with the comments of Amy, Lori, Leah, and ThatGayConservative. These books promote the worst stereotypes of gays and lesbians and do indeed hyper-sexualize the classroom. We need to take a long look at GLSEN, its mission, its funding, and the people who run the show there.

    And what really angers me is that this organization is perceived by the media and the world-at-large as THE voice of the LGBT community on the issue of gay youth and education. It’s time to change that.

    Comment by Lesbian Outsider — December 6, 2009 @ 5:15 pm - December 6, 2009

  36. Throbert: Yes I saw the ones about Alexander and the ancient Greeks. Those look quite fascinating. I enjoy a well-written tale about those times, so look forward to check those out after The Charioteer. I saw that Charioteer was set in WWII, which is another era I find to be interesting so I think I should enjoy it. Eh, we’ll see.

    Comment by John — December 6, 2009 @ 5:15 pm - December 6, 2009

  37. Your fundamental problem seems to be that we aren’t teaching gay people to keep it in their pants until some sort of gay marriage I guess? Or until they reach 18? Maybe you should define your terms I’d have a better position to argue them. Should we all be in exclusive monogamous relationships our whole lives? Are the slutty gays the bad ones? Would you consider polyamorous relationships? I’m just trying to get the perspective here, since it seems that is what the post is based off of, your disagreement that we should be offering alternate views of sexual relationships.

    Actually this is a discussion which impacts more than just gays, but straights as well. It is the culture spawned by the Sexual Revolution, not necessarily some of the goals of that movement, which many conservatives balk at today. We can probably name a number of benefits from that movement, but also quite a list of ills our society is suffering as well. Now, if your intent is to defend non-monogamous or polyamorous relationships let me just say that the embrace of these is what has hurt gay rights almost as much as religious bias has. Western culture settled this a long time ago that monogamy is the ideal and anything other than this is harmful to individuals and society as a whole. A “if it feels good, do it” mentality isn’t going to get you very far and IMO is detrimental. Now since I can hear you itchin’ to talk about “rights”, let me agree with you that you have every right to live as promiscuously as you please, just don’t be stupid enough to whine when most everyone else looks down upon such behavior.

    Oh and btw, the first sentence in the quote from GLSEN’s is exactly the issue here:

    “All BookLink items are reviewed by GLSEN staff for quality and appropriateness of content.”

    If the staff of GLSEN truly believe this material is appropriate for children, this only calls their judgment into question.

    Comment by John — December 6, 2009 @ 5:24 pm - December 6, 2009

  38. I believe that sex outside of a lifelong, monogamous, publicly accountable relationship is wrong. Not unproductive or antisocial, but against moral absolutes. I don’t believe that sexual morality can be based on a relativistic humanism, but must be based on revelation.

    I believe that the best literature, like Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Sister Carrie, etc., shows the consequences of going against this absolute.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — December 6, 2009 @ 7:31 pm - December 6, 2009

  39. Second try at commenting.

    Ashpenaz, you’re lying to yourself and everyone here. You DON’T believe that “sexual morality…must be based on revelation.” If you did you’d accept the fact that the God you claim to believe in has already said, “Thou shalt not” to homosexuality. Don’t talk about moral absolutes and revelation when you are in rebellion against revealed moral absolutes that reject your sexuality.

    Comment by Seane-Anna — December 6, 2009 @ 11:03 pm - December 6, 2009

  40. Umm…errr…God didn’t say anything about homosexuality in Scripture (though I do think the concept of “eunuch” contains the idea–which I got from John Boswell). The word “homosexuality” was invented in the 19th century. There are no words in OT Hebrew or NT Greek which are the equivalent of our modern understanding of homosexual orientation. There aren’t any words which clearly describe homosexual acts. There are no passages, in the OT or NT, which talk about lesbians. Not a one.

    The fact that some Christians read the Bible as condemning all homosexual behavior, everywhere doesn’t make it true. There are Christians who don’t read Harry Potter or eat meat or dance or play cards or listen to rock music or all kinds of things. That doesn’t make them right.

    The Episcopal Church just elected its second gay bishop. I believe that the Holy Spirit is working through them and other mainline churches to show God’s plan for full inclusion of homosexuals. Are you going to say the Episcopal, ELCA, and UCC churches have rejected Biblical absolutes?

    However, I think it is safe to apply such revealed absolutes as loyalty, fidelity, monogamy and honesty to homosexual relationships.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — December 7, 2009 @ 12:15 am - December 7, 2009

  41. Tim, from now on, when you comment to my blog, please instead of making wild accusations of what I supposedly said, first, do me the favor of summarizing the post so I know that you have read it, then when addressing my points, please cut and paste them into the body of your comment.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — December 7, 2009 @ 4:18 am - December 7, 2009

  42. [...] Thoughts on Kevin Jennings & the GLSEN Reading List [...]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Kevin Jennings & The Problem of Gay Fiction — December 7, 2009 @ 4:46 am - December 7, 2009

  43. If you did you’d accept the fact that the God you claim to believe in has already said, “Thou shalt not” to homosexuality.

    Seane-Anna, you have no basis for this claim at all. If your faith tells you that homosexuality is wrong, then you are free to maintain that belief, and I’d advise you not to engage in homosexual behavior as well. If your basis for your claim is the Bible, then I’m virtually certain that many of the activities you have engaged in has been declared evil by God as well. However, you selectively have chosen to declare that God has decided that homosexuality, out of all of the other things that God has deemed wrong, on a gay blog no less.

    There are no words in OT Hebrew or NT Greek which are the equivalent of our modern understanding of homosexual orientation. There aren’t any words which clearly describe homosexual acts. There are no passages, in the OT or NT, which talk about lesbians. Not a one.

    Ashpenaz, you’re correct that the word homosexuality was never used. However, doesn’t the famous Leviticus verse say something like, “a man shall not lie with a man as with a woman.”? Of course, we can get into a 2400 or so years debate about the interpretations and (mis)translations, but the way the verse is stated in most Bibles, God is clearly protrayed as not being a happy Camper when it comes to homosexuality.

    There are no passages, in the OT or NT, which talk about lesbians. Not a one.

    Yeah, it’s almost as if straight men wrote the Bible.

    I believe that the Holy Spirit is working through them and other mainline churches to show God’s plan for full inclusion of homosexuals.

    Better 2000+ years late than never I suppose.

    Comment by Pat — December 7, 2009 @ 4:43 pm - December 7, 2009

  44. Pat,

    Actually I asked a Rabbi about the girl-on-girl thing. His reply was that the Torah is silent on female/vemale parings, but most interpret the passages in the Talmud to not be like the people of Egypt to include girl/girl parings. (Leah, Dan, can you correct my understanding of it if I’m wrong)

    I told my mom that as long as she didn’t date an Egyptian chick, she was in the clear. ;-)

    Of course two girls um, getting it on, wouldn’t risk as much damage as anal sex. (hetero or homo)

    Seane-Anna,

    You and I and Ash all have different understandings of the Divine. Pat is right in that we’re none without sin. Personally, I think Ash is confusing the will of the Divine with the PC of the people. But I declared myself a Heritic a long time ago, so I don’t care what the mother church does.

    Comment by The_Livewire — December 7, 2009 @ 9:07 pm - December 7, 2009

  45. What actual evidence do you have that it the Holy Spirit isn’t at work in the mainline churches? I assume you have a direct line. You and James Dobson should get together.

    As far as the passage in Leviticus, Jesus freed us from the Holiness Code: “It is not what goes into a man that defiles him, it is what comes out of him.” Paul said, “All things are permissible.” Jesus told Peter, “Don’t call unclean what God has called clean.”

    It was only in the last half-century that major churches started ordaining women. For a long time, the Scripture was interpreted to exclude women from ministry. The Holy Spirit corrected that, why can’t She correct peoples’ ideas about homosexuality?

    Comment by Ashpenaz — December 7, 2009 @ 9:38 pm - December 7, 2009

  46. 45.What actual evidence do you have that it the Holy Spirit isn’t at work in the mainline churches?

    Ashpenaz, what evidence do you have that the Holy Spirit is at work in the mainline churches regarding, say attitudes on homosexuality, and ordaining of women. There is clear evidence that these changes came about because that’s what the people, and eventually, the clergy, wanted. Or is your point that, you agree with this, but this was the Holy Spirit’s doing?

    As far as the passage in Leviticus, Jesus freed us from the Holiness Code: “It is not what goes into a man that defiles him, it is what comes out of him.” Paul said, “All things are permissible.” Jesus told Peter, “Don’t call unclean what God has called clean.”

    Unfortunately, this can also be interpreted to mean that homosexuality, like adultery, murder, and other naughty things is still evil.

    The Holy Spirit corrected that, why can’t She correct peoples’ ideas about homosexuality?

    I suppose He (or She) could. But why did He wait for over 2000 years to attempt to do so? Also, why hasn’t He convinced the Catholic Church to ordain women?

    Comment by Pat — December 8, 2009 @ 7:24 am - December 8, 2009

  47. [...] Gay Patriot came out (no pun intended!) over two  months ago for Kevin Jennings to resign. His thoughts on the current controversy, here. [...]

    Pingback by The Official Media Matters Response To Obama’s Safe School Czar’s Porno Reading List For Kids Scandal « Nice Deb — December 8, 2009 @ 12:37 pm - December 8, 2009

  48. Ash, you confuse me. You say here “The word “homosexuality” was invented in the 19th century. There are no words in OT Hebrew or NT Greek which are the equivalent of our modern understanding of homosexual orientation. There aren’t any words which clearly describe homosexual acts.”

    Then you say “As far as the passage in Leviticus, Jesus freed us from the Holiness Code: “It is not what goes into a man that defiles him, it is what comes out of him.”” [Insert innuendo here].

    So which is it? You seem to be saying “God doesn’t say it’s a sin, and Christ said it wasn’t a sin anymore!”

    Comment by The_Livewire — December 8, 2009 @ 12:53 pm - December 8, 2009

  49. Livewire, perhaps it’s a case of “In case God said and meant that homosexuality was a sin (evil, wrong, or whatever adjective one wants to put in here), Jesus has said it is now not a sin. But if God never said it was a sin, then Jesus is maintaining it’s not a sin.” Bases covered either way.

    Actually, no one knows for sure what God really feels about homosexuality. My best guess is that God doesn’t give a rat’s ass about it any more than heterosexuality. That He wants anyone to behave responsibly no matter their orientation. And would NOT want a gay person to marry someone of the opposite sex.

    Or perhaps this is one of those topics that God is going to let us mere mortal beings figure it out for ourselves. Pretty much like everything else.

    Comment by Pat — December 8, 2009 @ 4:15 pm - December 8, 2009

  50. [...] Generally, if I post on a matter where I indicate that I share even the slightest bit of common ground with social conservatives, critics will come in as if out of the woodwork, making allegations about my views both at odds with my actual opinions and even (on occasion) at odds with things I actually said in the very post to which they attach their comments. And  so it was, when, in the past ninety-six hours, I posted on Adam Lambert and the latest Kevin Jennings “scandal.” [...]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » “Abstinence Only” Sex Education Appropriate for a Long Bygone Era* — December 8, 2009 @ 8:01 pm - December 8, 2009

  51. [...] I’ve said previously and it bears repetition, we can’t make a final judgment on the nature of the books on the [...]

    Pingback by GayPatriot — December 9, 2009 @ 2:54 am - December 9, 2009

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