While the lgbt community is distracted by marriage equality, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and anger at President Obama, the religious right is attempting to play the death of a thousand cuts game on GLSEN's Kevin Jennings
There seems to be an attempt to create a rising storm regarding President Obama's pick of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) founder Kevin Jennings as Assistant Deputy Secretary in the Office of Safe Schools.
The religious right have been steadily attempting to portray Jennings as a danger to children and another cog in the so-called gay conspiracy to indoctrinate children.
The usual characters, Peter LaBarbera, Linda Harvey, and One News Now, have already cast Jennings as some sort of psychological lamia out to strip children of their innocence.
Now the Family Research Council via its blog has gotten into the act. Let's look at the group's claims:
View of Christians
Addressing a church audience on March 20, 2000 in New York City — just days before “Fistgate” — GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings offered a stinging (and quite intolerant) assessment of how to deal with religious conservatives:
Twenty percent of people are hard-core fair-minded [pro-homosexual] people. Twenty percent are hard-core [anti-homosexual] bigots. We need to ignore the hard-core bigots, get more of the hard-core fair-minded people to speak up, and we’ll pull that 60 percent [of people in the middle] … over to our side. That’s really what I think our strategy has to be. We have to quit being afraid of the religious right. We also have to quit — … I’m trying to find a way to say this. I’m trying not to say, ‘[F---] ‘em!’ which is what I want to say, because I don’t care what they think! [audience laughter] Drop dead! It should be noted that GLSEN and Jennings make heavy use of the words “respect” and “tolerance” in their public rhetoric and in descriptions of their programs.
The claim that Jennings is bigoted towards Christians is debatably inaccurate. The quote says nothing about Christians, but rather some folks who oppose lgbt equality.
And based on how these individuals and organizations have opposed lgbt equality in the past, Jennings has a point with his comments.
However that is not the point. FRC tries to imply that Jennings is bigoted towards Christians much like a racist would be bigoted towards African-Americans. And the quote the organization uses just doesn't justify that implication, despite the profanity used by Jennings.
You will notice that the example mentioned "fistgate." FRC's blog goes into detail about this alleged incident further down:
GLSEN and “Fistgate”
GLSEN, which promotes homosexual clubs and the homosexual lifestyle in high schools, middle schools and grade schools and is the driving force behind the annual “Day of Silence” celebration of homosexuality
“The most notorious education scandal involving homosexual activists is a GLSEN sponsored conference that occurred on March 25, 2000, dubbed ‘Fistgate’ by conservatives. Three homosexual activists employed by the Massachusetts Departments of Health and Education led a youth workshop titled ‘What They Didn’t Tell You about Queer Sex & Sexuality in Health Class’ — part of the annual Boston-GLSEN ‘Teach Out’ conference held at Tufts University. The ‘Queer Sex’ session, advertised to ‘youth only ages 14 to 21,’ was attended by Massachusetts family advocate Scott Whitemen, who taped it while standing in the back of the room.
In the workshop, instructor Michael Gaucher, prompted by a teen’s question, verbally guided the students on the mechanics of ‘fisting’ — a homosexual slang term for a sadistic sex act in which a man inserts his hand and arm into another person’s anal cavity.
Another instructor, Margot Abels, said fisting ‘often gets a really bad rap,’ and described it innocuously as ‘an experience of letting somebody into your body that you want to be that close and intimate with.’ Abels and Gaucher also guided the students on techniques of oral sodomy and lesbian sex.”
"Fistgate," which I have talked about repeatedly, is one of those phony moral panics created by Massachusetts religious right group Mass Resistance. The group illegally entered and taped a discussion from a Massachusetts state conference on teens and sexual behavior.
My take on the so-called controversy is here. But the most important thing about this situation regarding Jennings and GLSEN is other than helping to sponsor the conference, neither Jennings nor GLSEN had anything to do with the questions asked or the controversy that took place because of it.
One last point I want to make:
On Statutory Rape
‘In his own writings and books listed on the GLSEN [Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network] Website, I’ve reported, Kevin Jennings has given tacit nods of approval to sex between young teens and adults,’ (Linda) Harvey told WND. ‘In addition to that, the writings and books, many of which I’ve read and are incredibly graphic, seem to
normalize early teen same-sex sexual behaviors.’
As I have said so many times before, Linda Harvey is a phony expert. She is the founder of Mission America and a former ad executive who became "born again." She has no credentials or expertise. She also has a very, very negative view of anyone who is lgbt supportive. This is what she said three years ago:
When people have views supporting homosexuality, they should not be involved with youth in any way, period. Because they:
will provide inaccurate, misleading information to kids;
may limit a student's opportunity to hear warnings about the behavior;
may advocate or model inappropriate behavior;
may be directly involved in the molestation of kids themselves; or
may be in a position to allow others to do so.
I think it's safe to say that Harvey is not a credible source of information regarding lgbts.
The attacks on Jennings is important because they are taking place while the lgbt community is distracted with marriage equality, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and our anger at President Obama for allegedly not moving fast enough on our issues.
How long will it be before a letter signed by several religious right groups asking for Jennings's removal goes out to the media?
We had better get on the ball with this before we are caught with our pants down.
Past writings on the religious right attacks on Jennings and GLSEN:
'Fistgate' and President Obama - religious right pushes a pitiful attempt of guilt by association
More right wing lunacy on Kevin Jennings courtesy of Kevin McCullough