I started working on this Kevin Jennings post last weekend, never finished it, and forgot about it until Jennings was all over Memeorandum again today. A really good journalist wouldn't have have been so lackadaisical with posting, but that's why some of them get their tip jars rung more often than the rest of us.
At any rate, I noted the Rachel Abrams post at The Weekly Standard, looking at the Jennings perception of what safe schools means today. Back when we were kids, or at least I was, being safe in school meant not running in the halls or as Abrams says, "eating the paste."
Times are changin'.
You will remember, of course, that Jennings is the safe schools czar who has come under fire for failing to report knowledge of a male underage high school student having sex with an older man whom he met in a bus station. It has since been determined that that young man in question was in fact of legal consent, and he has come out in praise and gratitude of the support Jennings offered him. For his part, Jennings attributes this lapse to a youthful mistake and apologized, only after coming under fire by conservatives.
What Abrams is looking at now is Harry Hay and Jennings's praise of him. Michelle Malkin is now posting on the same subject, pointing to Zombie's post about Harry Hay. So this is gaining a little traction.
Who is Harry Hay? He was a Communist, he was co-founder of the Mattachine Society, which was one of the first gay activist organizations in the U.S., and was deeply involved with the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). We'll get back to him.
Kevin Jennings penned the Foreward in the book Queering Elementary Education and in it he actually says something I agree with. He says "Let's start setting the expectation that you must value every human being as a precious gift, that you must respect even those you disagree with, that you must treasure the differences among us, as soon as possible." On this point Mr. Jennings and I are in agreement, however, I don't think it's his call as to when or how a child learns about homosexuality, or his place as czar to tell them.
Full disclosure: Before anyone jumps me for being anti-gay, let me just say that nothing could be further from the truth. I'm not going to go into the long list of friends I have (and some that I have tragically lost) who are gay. My levels of tolerance might surprise you. This is not my issue with Jennings. I question his methods, his timing, and his role in that part of a child's education. I question his decision making; his handling of the sexual activity of a child, of legal consent or not, with an older man was wrong.
Jennings is the safe schools czar. As Abrams points out, safe schools used to include drug education, anti-violence and even increasing our awareness of bullying, but Jennings says "we must address anti-gay bigotry and we must do it as soon as students start going to school." Really? We have to address this in kindergarten?
That is simply not the role of government. You know, when Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky was exposed and pundits all over the television were talking about it, suddenly parents found themselves in the awkward role of having to explain to very young children what oral sex is. The President of the United States dropped that bomb in their laps and parents had to negotiate the landmines of adultery and mature sexual content with kids that were too young to have to think about such things.
Jennings's philosophy is not unlike that in principle. It should be the role of the parents to decide what to say to kids, and when to say it, on such mature topics. Whether those parents agree with Jennings or not, it's their own call.
Now, back to Harry Hay. One other disturbing thing that Rachel Abrams, and now Zombie, points to is Jennings's outspoken admiration of Harry Hay who spoke out in favor of man/boy love. Hay's quote on the subject asserts that the best thing that could happen to a young, gay boy is to hook up with an older man. He said, ". . . if the parents and friends of gays are truly friends of gays, they would know from their gay kids that the relationship with an older man is precisely what thirteen-, fourteen, and fifteen-year-old kids need more than anything else in the world. And they would be welcoming this, and welcoming the opportunity for young gay kids to have the kind of experience that they would need.”
To be fair, when Jennings praised Hay, he wasn't necessarily praising NAMBLA, but he was praising Hay and for him to express such admiration of a man that spoke so highly of pedophilia is in fact disturbing. NAMBLA advocates the liberalization of laws against sexual relations between adult men and underage boys. Zombie is more to the point: "It's a pro-pedophilia group."
Zombie has all the evidence of Hay's deep involvement with NAMBLA. There's no proof that Jennings ever met Hay or associated with him, and it's all guilt by association. But how much does that matter when you're talking about the man in charge of your child's safety at school expressing admiration for a man who is pro-pedophilia?
American Spectator on Nancy Pelosi's silence on Jennings
Dan Riehl standing by his position that Jennings is fine with child/adult sex
A video on Jennings by Newsy.com