Ever since Jennings was appointed as the Assistant Deputy Secretary at the Department of Education for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, conservatives (especially the religious right) have waged a war of lies and innuendo in an attempt to get him fired.
The following is the latest attempt via Rep. Steve King:
King, 52 House Republicans Call on Obama to Fire Kevin Jennings
Congressman Steve King (R-IA) and 52 other House Republicans today sent a letter to the White House calling on President Barack Obama to fire "safe schools" czar Kevin Jennings. King, the first member of Congress to ask for the dismissal of Jennings, initially called for President Obama to fire Jennings on October 5.
"Support is growing in Congress and across America for President Obama to fire Kevin Jennings and replace him with someone possessing the appropriate qualifications and ethical standards to serve in a presidential administration," King said. "Despite serving as the ‘safe schools' czar, Jennings has no experience keeping students safe or keeping our schools drug free. Jennings is committed to the ‘safety' of only a narrow portion of American students, while expressing disdain for religion and traditional values. President Obama should fire Kevin Jennings immediately."
Text of the letter follows:
October 15, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We respectfully request that you remove Kevin Jennings, the Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, from your Administration. It is clear that Mr. Jennings lacks the appropriate qualifications and ethical standards to serve in this capacity.
As the founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Mr. Jennings has played an integral role in promoting homosexuality and pushing a pro-homosexual agenda in America's schools-an agenda that runs counter to the values that many parents desire to instill in their children. As evidence of this, Mr. Jennings wrote the foreword for a book titled Queering Elementary Education: Advancing the Dialogue About Sexualities and Schooling. Throughout his career, Mr. Jennings has made it his mission to establish special protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students to the exclusion of all other students. The totality of Mr. Jennings' career has been to advocate for public affirmation of homosexuality. There is more to safe and drug free schools than can be accomplished from the narrow view of Mr. Jennings who has, for more than 20 years, almost exclusively focused on promoting the homosexual agenda.
Equally troubling is Mr. Jennings' self-described history of ignoring the sexual abuse of a child. In his book, One Teacher in Ten, Mr. Jennings recounts a 15-year old student confiding in him that he had a sexual relationship with a much older man. Mr. Jennings' only response was to ask if the underage boy used a condom. As a mandatory reporter, Mr. Jennings was required by law to report child abuse, including sex crimes. Mr. Jennings cannot serve as the "safe schools" czar when his record demonstrates a willingness to overlook the sexual abuse of a child.
As the "safe schools" czar, Mr. Jennings is also charged with ensuring our schools and students are drug free. It is clear that Mr. Jennings is unfit to serve in this capacity, as well. His own history of unrepentant drug and alcohol abuse indicates that he is of the opinion that getting drunk and high as a young person is acceptable. In his memoir, Mama's Boy, Preacher's Son, Mr. Jennings describes his use of illegal drugs, without expressing regret or acknowledging the devastating effects illegal drug use can have on a person's life.
Everyone that deals with the education of the most vulnerable must be a positive role model. Our children are not blessed with the wisdom to discern and reject. Children presume the adults who educate them are approved by the larger society and their parents. Kevin Jennings cannot gain the approval of parents who want their children safe and their schools drug free. You should replace him with someone who has a record of educating children in a safe and moral environment.
Given these very serious issues with Mr. Jennings' record, we urge you to remove him immediately.
Fifty three House Republicans signed this letter of lies:
King; Alexander; Aderholt; Akin; Austria; Bachmann; Bachus; Bartlett; Barton; Boozman; Broun; Brown, H.; Carter; Chaffetz; Coffman; Cole; Conaway; Davis, Geoff; Fallin; Fleming; Foxx; Franks; Garret; Gingrey; Gohmert; Hunter; Issa; Jordan; Lamborn; Latta; Luetkemeyer; Marchant; McClintock; McHenry; McKeon; McMorris; Mica; Miller, J.; Myrick; Neugebauer; Olson, P.; Pence; Pitts; Posey; Rogers; Rooney; Ryan, Paul; Shuster; Smith, C.; Smith, L.; Wamp; Westmoreland; and Jones, Walter.
Do these folks read anything other than religious right propaganda?
It has already been established that the young man in the center of the controversy was of legal age at the time. And also, the young man has gone record saying that he did not have sex. But they are still trying to make that negative charge stick.
And it's not as if they aren't aware that the charge is false.
According to Greg Sargent of Plum Line, Rep. King's office was informed that the charge against Jennings involving the young man was false BEFORE his office sent the letter out.
As for the other claims, I chalk them up as extreme homophobic balderdash by folks too self-righteous and scared to admit that the only reason they oppose Jennings is because of his sexual orientation.
But when I read who is involved, I am not shocked. As stated before, the letter was the work of Representative Steve King, seen in the picture below with another signer of the letter, Michele Bachmann. This picture was taken at the recent rightwing How to Take Back America conference:
There was a session at this conference regarding about the supposed "gay agenda," in which attendees were encouraged to focus on the “ick” factor around gay sex and on claims that homosexuality is a health threat. . .
One of the persons who led this session was Brian Camenker. Camenker runs the Massachusetts anti-gay group, Mass Resistance.
Mass Resistance has been designated as an official hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Camenker is also the person featured in the picture with King and Bachmann.
Other representatives who signed the letter, Tom McClintock and Todd Akin, not only also attended the conference but also appeared in pictures with Camenker:
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, anti-gay hate groups:
are organizations that go beyond mere disagreement with homosexuality by subjecting gays and lesbians to campaigns of personal vilification.
In the case of Camenker and Mass Resistance, that includes:
Manufacturing a phony panic about "schools teaching children about homosexuality,"
Claiming in 2005 on Comedy Central's Daily Show that if given time, he would be able to connect gay marriage in Massachusetts to the "reduction" of the quality of life in the state, a spike in homelessness rates, or and a lowering the quality of the air in the state, or
Making a claim in 2006 that "gays were trying to get legislation passed to allow sex with animals" in Massachusetts.
So in the eyes of King, Bachmann, Akin, and McClintock, an lgbt Presidential appointee is a huge problem, but cozying up to an anti-gay hate group is nothing to be ashamed of.
And then there is another thing that bothers me about this situation.
It saddens me when I read about incidents where honor students are getting beaten to death, where gangs of students are setting their peers on fire.
Where is the letter from King and company demanding action on these incidents?
Doesn't the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools address situations like these?
Can it be that these legislators are so obsessed, so consumed with eliminating Jennings that they are willing to distract from solving the real problem of school violence?
Just where are their priorities?
Go here to support Kevin Jennings.