With everything going on with President Obama, the Democratic party and lgbts, I am almost hesitant to talk about the attacks on Kevin Jennings and GLSEN but I simply have to.
Today on his webpage, Peter LaBarbera continues to wage the war against Jennings. He has put up an affidavit by one Scott Whiteman, the man who taped the supposed "fistgate" incident.
To recap: GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) founder Kevin Jennings was recently appointed to be Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, religious right groups have been trying to find a way to have him dismissed.
So they have been going through past files in pursuit of something especially damning that would cause the Obama Administration to fire Jennings.
One of the things they supposedly found was what they like to call "Fistgate." This was a situation that took place during a conference in 2000 at Tufts University in Massachusetts.
The state conference, "Teach-Out," was sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Education, the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, and the GLSEN.
Included among the conference-goers were preadolescents who were (like the rest of Teach-Out's attendees) allowed to ask questions about sex in a safe environment. One student asked what fisting was, and was answered with an explanation.
This led the incident to the supposed "Fistgate" incident.
Whiteman taped some of the students without their knowledge.
As a result of the outcry that was generated when parents heard tapes of the event, Margot Abels, a state employee who participated in the discussion, and two other state employees were fired.
Abels later sued the Massachusetts Department of Education and Whiteman for "violating her civil rights and the state's antiwiretapping law."
In 2001, she was not only reinstated but was also given back pay via arbitration. The arbitrator, Marc Greenbaum ruled that:
Abels was not acting on behalf of the Department of Education, but said the department had knowledge of and "supported" her participation in the presentation.
He also said:
that her participation was "authorized by her superiors, and her conduct, while controversial, did not violate then-established department guidelines."
The arbitrator also said that the tape was "misleading" because portions of it, which contained "important messages about AIDS prevention, abstinence, postponement, alternative forms of sexual intimacy and the need for students to enforce their own boundaries of personal security," were missing.
That's the story. But LaBarbera and company continue to inaccurately imply that GLSEN was solely responsible for the conference and, by way of connection, was responsible for the unfortunate incident:
“What’s Fisting?”: That’s the question that a teenager asked an adult at a Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN)-sponsored conference at Tufts University in Boston in 2000. (GLSEN was founded by Kevin Jennings, President Obama’s pick to head up the “Safe Schools” wing at the Department of Education.) What followed from this perverse question was a detailed explanation of this disgusting perversion, including “how-to” advise on how to “fist” (hand/arm-anal and -vaginal penetration) “correctly.” At left is the logo of the Chicago group MAFIA, Mid-America Fists in Action, Inc., a homosexual club that holds “fisting parties” for men into this vile and dangerous perversion. (MAFIA holds “fisting” parties every year at Chicago’s International Mr. Leather.)
I'm not even going to ask how LaBarbera has information regarding fisting parties. And the affadavit he reprinted is nothing new. It continues to inaccurately blame Jennings and GLSEN for the incident.
These continued attempt by the religious right to attack Jennings is starting to become a parody. Their hopes seem to be if they continue to make noise, sooner or later folks will start to take notice.
This is true to a degree. If one continues to make noise, you do get noticed. However sometimes its because people are starting to laugh or pity you.
I'm personally laughing myself. I generally do that when people continue to be a dead horse.
More on the religious right's war against Kevin Jennings:
Attacks on Kevin Jennings sleazy, un-Christian
More right wing lunacy on Kevin Jennings courtesy of Kevin McCullough
More attacks on GLSEN'S Kevin Jennings - Now the Family Research Council gets in the act
'Fistgate' and President Obama - religious right pushes a pitiful attempt of guilt by association