Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kevin Jennings Must Go

This morning, a friend of mine said to me, "Andy, I read your post from the other night, and I thought, 'there has got to be more to this". My friend couldn't believe that a teacher wouldn't report a student who told him that student had been raped. He also couldn't believe that teacher would be selected to be the Safe Schools Czar. I have been looking into this since Monday, and my friend is right, there is more to the story. However, the "more to the story" paints a darker picture than I described on Monday.



In case you didn't read my post from Monday, Kevin Jennings is the Safe Schools Czar. According to the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, this job is charged with providing, "…financial assistance for drug and violence prevention activities and activities that promote the health and well being of students…"{emphasis mine}. Kevin Jennings was a teacher when a 15 year old male student came to him and said that a man had picked him up at a bus stop restroom and took him home to have sex with him. Mr. Jennings advice to the student was to use a condom. This isn't an allegation. We know this from Mr. Jennings own words in an audio tape from a rally where Kevin Jennings spoke to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). When another teacher pointed out that Kevin broke the law because he didn't report the event out to the authorities, Mr. Jennings threatened to sue the teacher in court.



After my post on Monday, I found out more details about Kevin Jennings. In 1990, he founded GLSEN, the organization he bragged to about telling the 15 year old boy to use a condom with the man picking him up. GLSEN has been accused of promoting homosexuality in schools. It's one thing to teach that kids shouldn't be bullied because of their differences. It is another thing entirely to have a conference were officials instruct students on the proper use of "fisting". According to Fox News, one official at the conference said, "[fisting] gets a bad rap…[It's] an experience of letting somebody into your body that you want to be that close and intimate with…[and] to put you into an exploratory mode." Quoting Fox News further:



"From what I've heard, I have concerns as well." Jennings told the Boston Globe in May 2000."GLSEN believes that children do have a right to accurate, safer sex education, but this needs to be delivered in an age-appropriate and sensitive manner."


"What troubles me is the people who have the tape [of this event] know what our missions is, they know that our work is about preventing harassment and they know that session was not the totality of what was offered at a conference with over 50 sessions," he said.



The fact that this was offered to children at all is totally inappropriate. The rest of the sessions could have been entirely innocent. This one session outweighs the others.



According to Jennings, GLSEN's mission would be achieved if straight people decided it was ok for someone to promote homosexuality in schools because by then homosexuality wouldn't be equated with something bad that shouldn't be promoted. In this situation we had a sophomore in high school who was getting picked up by an adult male to have sex. Mr. Jennings couldn't see past his own activism to protect the child or to comply with the law.



Mr. Jennings has no credibility that he can distance himself from his own personal politics in order to make informed decisions about school age children. How can parents trust any decision his office has anything to do with? Mr. Jennings shouldn't' have a presidentially appointed position; he should be awaiting his day in court for failure to report statuary rape that he knew was taking place. President Obama should ask for Mr. Jennings resignation and answer some hard questions. Is this behavior acceptable to the President? Did the President vet Mr. Jennings? Did he know about this, or did he think this was acceptable behavior from a teacher?


27 comments:

Cherobie said...

You obviously have a complete disregard for facts, truth, or the law. Ever considered a career at Fox News?
http://mediamatters.org/research/200909300050
Since you're too lazy to do a simple google search, here's some kind people who've done the work for you.

Andy D said...

Cherobie,

Thanks for the comments. I hope you stay around here and continue to comment on this and other posts. However, in the future, don't insult people on this site. I strive for a respectful debate from all sides here.

As far as Media Matters goes, I have a couple of responses:

1) Media Matters is hardly a bastion of facts. They have been caught a number of times misquoting people and taking comments out of context. If I have a factual point wrong, point it out, but come up with a better source than this.

2) Media Matters is not a non-biased, impartial organization. They are a political group.

3)On substance: The only point they dispute in the coverage by Fox News, The Washington Times, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hanity, and others is this: the boy was 16, not 15, and therefore it wasn't rape. According to Jennings lawyer, the age of consent at the time was 16. The problem is that Jennings himself claimed the boy was 15. He was caught on tape discussing this at a lecture. You can see a transcript of the relevant part and here the audio here. These organizations are claiming the boy is 15, not out of some vast right wing plot, but because Kevin Jennings stated the boy was 15.

4) Either 15 or 16, I am still disgusted by Kevin Jennings response. He should have contacted school officials, the boys parents, and the police. The boy needed help, and Kevin Jennings wasn't there to protect help him. Mr. Jennings has no business being the Safe Schools Czar.

Cherobie said...

If you don't like Kevin Jennings, that is your right. But accusing him of breaking the law is an entirely different matter. If the child was 16 as Jennings and his lawyer claim, then Jennings had no legal duty to report ANYTHING let alone outing a 16 year old gay kid in the 1980s. By your post and others, it is obvious what the sentiment is toward gays in this country TODAY not to mention what it would have been like for a kid in the 80s. If no law was broken, and that does appear to be the case, keep that context in mind before you crucify Jennings. Unless you just dont like him bc hes gay

Andy D said...

Cherobie, I think you are reading into comments here something that isn't there. According to Jennings in 2000, the boy was 15. If we take Jennings at his word then, a crime was committed. The boys name is known so it shouldn't be to hard for a judge to figure out how old he was.

If this were a situation where it was a 16 year old girl having sex with an adult man that Jennings knew about, my opinion would be the same. The teacher should be protecting the students, and that includes protecting them from adult predators. Jennings failed to do that.

Do I like Jennings? I don't know him. I think he failed to protect a child when he was a teacher, and I think he is an activist working to promote a very specific agenda in public schools. In my opinion, he has shown that he can't put that activism aside to help a child. I think this should disqualify him from having the Safe Schools Czar position.

Rebecca said...

Maybe I'm missing something here but what is the Safe Schools Czar position? I've never even heard of that before.

Andy D said...

Technically, it follows under the Department of Education. I think the official title is Assistant Director of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. I provided a link to their site in the original post if you want to look at it. The "Safe Schools Czar" is a shorthand reference to the position.

the anonymous guy said...

Andy, you are taking part in some really sick stuff.

Kids have sex. This teacher told the kid to use a condom. End of story.

But you move from one false allegation to a discussion of somebody else's description of "fisting."

I'm waiting for your first posting denouncing the rampant sexual promiscuity and adultery among Republican leaders. And we'll all be expecting your detailed analysis of the sexual techniques employed by other people they are associated with.

All you seem to be able to generate these days is disgust. Even if you have to make up stories to be disgusted by.

Sick.

Andy D said...

Welcome back Anonymous,

Kids having sex with kids is a much more complex issue than this. Surely we can all agree that kids having sex with adults is wrong. We should do everything to protect children from adult predators.


What false allegation are you accusing me of? Yesterday, Kevin Jennings apologized for his behavior. He did what I have accused him of. Do you believe what he did was acceptable?

I include the description of fisting because this was something that GLSEN presented to a group of school kids. I think in the context of what Jennings does and doesn't believe is acceptable for kids, its important to know the attitude of a group he founded.

Through all my reading on this I have been surprised by the number of people who have tried to defend him. You seem outraged by the acts of a few Republicans. Adultery, while wrong, is no where near as bad as this. Adultery is a crime committed between two adults. This is a crime involving a child.


You say you believe I am "taking part in some really sick stuff." Does that mean you approve of Kevin Jennings actions? Do you think it is ok that he told this 15 year old kid to use a condom with an adult and didn't do anything to try and protect the kid from the adult?

the anonymous guy said...

The kid was 16. It was consensual sex. Ugly, picked-up-in-the-bathroom sex, but legal, consensual sex. End of story.

I will be absolutely astounded if you publish a post titled "John Ensign Must Go," as Ensign was not only committing adultery but probably breaking the law in an offense that could
land him in jail
.

You seem to be asking if I wish Jennings would have done more to counsel a kid 20+ years ago about the kid's consensual, legal, sex. Sure, he could have mentioned it to a counselor. Is that worth calling for his resignation? Is it worth one news story? No and no.

I do think your team is freaking out b/c it's gay sex. If this was a 16 year old boy having sex with an 18 year old woman, I can't believe you'd be screaming for heads to roll.

But your silence on Ensign is deafening.

[crickets]

And, hey, if its the gay sex that gets you excited, you've always got Ted Haggard, Bob Allen, Glenn Murphy Jr., Larry Craig, Mark Foley, Jeff Gannon--all colorfully gay members of your anti-gay team.

I'm sure you could even find some more connections to fisting. I mean, that's what we should all be talking about, right?

Christina said...

Andy writes: 'when a 15 year old male student came to him (Jennings)'(emphasis mine)...the boy must have wanted some kind of help,he sought out an adult to talk to about the incident. It appears that Jennings dis-associated himself from an awareness of the boy's well-being. It isn't about legal, it's about safety and a youth's life.

the anonymous guy said...

Christina, you should get your facts from somebody other than Andy. The student did not in fact "come to Jennings." Here's the quote that got the right wing all in a flutter:

And I said, "Brewster, what are you doing in there asleep?" And he said, "Well, I'm tired." And I said, "Well, we all are tired and we all got to school today." And he said, "Well, I was out late last night." And I said, "What were you doing out late on a school night?" And he said, "Well, I was in Boston." Boston was about 45 minutes from Concord. So I said, "What were you doing in Boston on a school night, Brewster?" He got very quiet, and he finally looked at me and said, "Well, I met somebody in the bus station bathroom and I went home with him." ...That was the only way he knew how to meet gay people. I was a closeted gay teacher, 24 years old, didn't know what to say. Knew I should say something quickly, so I finally -- my best friend had just died of AIDS the week before -- I looked at Brewster and said, "You know, I hope you knew to use a condom." He said to me something I will never forget. He said "Why should I, my life isn't worth saving anyway."

I'll be interested to see if Andy corrects and apologizes for this false assertion ("the kid came to Jennings") or his main false assertion that the kid was not of the age for consensual sex.

It's awkward for Andy, b/c now the entire "big deal" ...isn't. It's yet another right wing hissy fit wasting the time and energy of the country while real issues are happening all around us.

Meanwhile, John Ensign is still serving in the Senate. And Andy hasn't even begun to describe his sex-acts.

Andy D said...

Anonymous,

I thought about not posting this comment because you are really pushing the civility limits here. I went ahead for two reasons: I wanted to let you make your point, and I wanted to point out how you are misrepresenting the facts on this.

In your quote, you leave out a very important sentence that you and Cherobie both ignore. The complete quote you reference is:

And I said, “Brewster, what are you doing in there asleep?” And he said, “Well, I’m tired.” And I said, “Well we all are tired and we all got to school today.” And he said, “Well I was out late last night.” And I said, “What were you doing out late on a school night.” And he said, “Well, I was in Boston…” Boston was about 45 minutes from Concord. So I said, “What were you doing in Boston on a school night Brewster?” He got very quiet, and he finally looked at me and said, “Well I met someone in the bus station bathroom and I went home with him.” High school sophomore, 15 years old. That was the only way he knew how to meet gay people. I was a closeted gay teacher, 24 years old, didn’t know what to say. Knew I should say something quickly so I finally said, “My best friend had just died of AIDS the week before.” I looked at Brewster and said, “You know, I hope you knew to use a condom.” He said to me something I will never forget, He said “Why should I, my life isn’t worth saving anyway.”{emphasis mine}


I will admit that Jennings sought out the kid. I was wrong on that and am happy to clear it up. However, Jennings himself stated that "Brewster" (he has called him by a different name in another book) was 15 at the time of the event. This was an adult preying on a child. You continue to harp on a scandal involving a Republican and an affair. Was Rep.Ensign wrong? Yes. Did he break the law? It appears so. Is adultery the same as rape? No, not by a long shot. And it doesn't rank anywhere near rape of a child.

Christine,

The audio of the above quote can be found in one of the links I put in a previous comment. And you are still correct,whether the student sought out Jennings or not,Jennings had a responsibility to get the boy help. And just to be clear, I am not talking about help for being gay, I am talking about help for the abuse, and help for the feelings of worthlessness.

the anonymous guy said...

Bravo for admitting you were wrong about the first part. One down, one to go.

The "very important" part I left out of the quote is *factually incorrect,* Andy. I don't want to be guilty of spreading lies. Do you?

Here's the guy's drivers' license. So stop the "statutory rape" nonsense.

Every time you write "rape" about this case, you are lying.

Still waiting for your post "Ensign must go."

Andy D said...

The diver's license Media Matters is providing is very informative. As I noted before, M. matters is hardly a non-partisan source.

Second, let's pretend he is 16 (which means we have to assume that Jennings hasn't been telling the truth all these years), is that ok?

I don't mean this part as a debate, but I don't understand this. Anon, you and Cherobie have both defended this guy based only on the fact that the boy was 16. Are you really ok with this then? Do you really believe Jennings is qualified to act as a Safe School Czar, a job that is suppose to be about protecting children, if he told a 16 year old kid to use a condom while he had sex with an adult? You sound outraged that Ensign would have an affair, but a child - adult sexual relationship is ok?

Cherobie said...

(1) Ensign ACTUALLY broke the law! What are you missing about that? Brewster being 16 means that Jennings DID NOT have ANY legal obligation to report anything.
(2) Brewster has come out to say that he DID NOT have a sexual relationship with an older man. Which means EVEN IF YOUR WILDEST FANTASY CAME TRUE and Brewster was 15, there would be NOTHING to report.
This is a non-story. Get over it. Game Over. You all (as in Conservatives who think having gay people around their kids will "turn" them, LOL) lose.

Andy D said...

I think the difference between me and you, and the difference between Kevin Jennings and me, is that I believe a sexual relationship between a kid and an adult is never OK. Whether Brewster was 16 or 15, whether he was gay or straight, he was still a kid at the time. Now he says he didn't have sex with the adult. Great. Jennings thought he did which meant he should have done something about it.

I think my criticism is still valid. Here was a chance where Kevin Jennings could have done the right thing and he decided not to.

Cherobie said...

Your personal opinion is fine, but if you want to set laws, be a state or federal legislator with allies who'll vote with you on your opinion. Otherwise, your belief that 16 is not old enough to consent means about as much as you get paid to do this blog.

Andy D said...

Nonsense, Cherobie. This blog is about personal opinions of everyone, right, left, or otherwise. This was created for people to express and debate issues without the name calling that seems to be on most political discussion boards.

As for opinions, I am very interested in yours. Do you think a sexual relationship between a 16 year old and an adult is ok? I have stated my opinion a number of times here. What is yours?

Cherobie said...

Well, Andy, being a recent law school graduate, my position is that the LAW reigns. Law makers in Massachusetts said that 16 year olds can have sex with whomever they want. Therefore, my opinion is that its ok for a 16 year old to have sex with whomoever he wants because the law says its ok. Move on! I'm so over this non-story now. Thanks!

the anonymous guy said...

This is the sort of world you believe in, Andy?

Most importantly, you've been posting public accusations of rape and accessory to rape and now you know you were wrong.

If I were you, my first "moral" concern would be to apologize for bearing (inflammatory, dangerous, widespread) false witness. But, hey, that's just something from the 10 commandments.

Andy D said...

Thanks for the honesty, Cherobie. I disagree. I believe there are times when something may be legal, but it isn't right to do. In this case I think Kevin Jennings should have done the right thing. He may have done the legal thing, but he didn't do the right thing.

Anon,
This is a very different case. In the case you site, the two parties were 17 and 15. In the case of "Brewster" the boys' age was 15 or 16, and the adults age was older. I think I saw somewhere the adult may have been 24, but I got the impression from reading through Jennings comments that he was older than that, so these are two very different cases.

As far as apologizing to Jennings, I haven't seen any evidence that I need to yet. First, Jennings claimed in more than one place, more than one time that "Brewster" was 15 when this happened, not 16. That would have made it illegal. I was going off Jennings own statements.

Secondly, Jennings should have done more. At a minimum, he should have gotten some sort of counseling for the student and reported the comments. Again, by Jennings own statements, he didn't know the boy was 16 until very recently. He should have done more to protect the kid and he didn't. It's one thing to say he didn't break the law so he should be allowed to keep his job. It's another thing entirely to say he should now be charged with ensuring kids across the nation are safe at school.

the anonymous guy said...

Nice Andy.

Not only do you not care about the *law* ("rape, not-rape, whatever..."), you don't even care if this thing actually *happened* or what the facts are.

That's why I'd want somebody like Cherobie for my lawyer or my judge--no matter the politics. B/c they care about the law and the facts.

Btw, my grandma conceived my mother when my grandmother was 15 and my grandfather was 18--unmarried at the time. By your definition, this is a much more clear and serious case than Jennings and Brewster. Their parents, their church, their relatives: all of them were accessories to rape.

And to think my grandpa--the "rapist"--became a family doctor who practiced on unknowing patients for decades! The outrage!!

Andy D said...

Anonymous, you miss my point.

First, we are not talking about a 15 year old and a 18 year old. We are talking about a 15 or 16 year old and someone in their mid-twenties or older. That's different from both your grandparents story and the one you linked to (as I have mentioned before).

Secondly, as Jennings understood the facts, he was an accessory to rape. He thought the kid was 15, he thought the kid was having sex with an adult. He thought rape was occurring (including the legal definition of rape).

Should he be charged? I think the police should look into it because there are a few facts that don't add up. If they see an issue, charge him, and let him see his day in court. If they don't see one, then don't.

However, whether he is qualified to be the safe schools czar is another matter. There isn't a legal burden of proof on how qualified he is. And because it is a czar, he isn't interviewed or vetted by the Senate. I think he showed such poor judgment in this case that he shouldn't be the czar. I think he should step down and let the President select someone else.

the anonymous guy said...

You want *police* to look into a couple of young people messing around more than twenty years ago to see if the kid's teacher should be charged.

Glad you're not running the legal system, bro.

pack04 said...

I have stayed out of this but I want to look now and sum up somethings going on.

A guy who rapes a 13 year old is getting a pass because he makes good movies.

Anon is requesting that a person who has not been (as far as I have read from the article he provided) formally charged, tried or convicted be removed from office. (The same thing he is angry at Andy for doing in this post) What is suspected is that the guy paid a mistress a severance package out of his pocket rather than his PAC's pocket. Now I understand the worry could be that some tax payer money was used. That is a valid concern. I will then ask, was tax payer money used for a private citizen, Mrs. Obama, to travel to Europe to promote a personal agenda?

Now to the task at hand. Cherobie and Anon are hammering Andy rather hard for lying. What about Mr. Jennings? He lied. According to information provided by Andy, he stated in a book and a speaking engagement that the boy was 15. As Mr. Jennings lawyer has pointed out the boy was 16 rather than 15. So Mr. Jennings has misrepresented the facts for his gain. Please ask 5 day head Notre Dame football coach Dennis O'Leary how misrepresenting the facts worked out for him. Flat out the man lied. Now should that exclude him from working up there where everybody else lies, maybe. It does, however, hurt his credibility.
I agree with Cherobie that the law reigns. According to the law at the time if the boy was 16 there was no rape committed. However, what I would like to know is what was the school systems rule at the time. My wife, father and stepmother are all teachers so I can speak with some knowledge on this. Teachers have a duty and requirement to report all suspected abuse on a student to the administration. That is part of their contract, that they know and understand all of the policies and procedures. Most school systems consider abuse to be physical or sexual. There is no age requirements. They consider sexual abuse an adult on student relationship. As a teacher his job requirements may have required him to report that suspected relationship. So regardless of state law requirements for rape he still could have broken rules.

I think it is wrong, sad and disgusting to accuse Andy or anybody else against Mr. Jennings as being scared of gays with just one look at one belief of a person who happens to be gay. The same is true of racism claims. Do some people not like Mr. Jennings because he is gay, sure. But jumping to conclusions without the full information is the same thing you accussed Andy of doing in this post, requesting a removal from office of somebody without the complete facts.

Anon, I do want somebody in charge of the legal system who is willing to look into crimes committed years ago because I believe that time past is not absolution of crimes committed.

Michael said...

You were dead on with the "quote" from Jennings at the conference. Good research in finding the mp3. Denver's 950 talk has been slamming Fox with this story stating that the kid, who is now an adult, states that this never happened and because Fox knows this, it's nothing but a smear campaign. I will present them with the Mp3 and transcript.

On another note, Jennings has other baggage that needs to be aired out. His praising of NAMBLA leader Harry Hay, and books that he has written about high school and college homosexuality. There some pretty interesting statements in there from Jennings that, in my opinion, aren't appropriate for a "Safe School Czar" to promote.

Yet another radical outed and put to shame in the White House's circle of friends.

Andy D said...

I had come across some of the other baggage while researching him. Like many of the czars, Kevin Jennings has a lot of history that would disqualify him from his position in a sane world.

Thanks for the compliment. I wish I could claim I scoured the internet for hours looking for that audio. I actually found it in just a couple of minutes. Which makes you wonder, if I can find it that easily, why can't CNN and MSNBC?