Wash. Times smears Jennings with claim he "encourag[ed] underage drinking among homosexual kids"
Research ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG
In a December 11 editorial, The Washington Times continued its relentless anti-gay campaign against Department of Education official Kevin Jennings by advancing several previously debunked claims, including the false claim -- which was pushed by the hate group MassResistance -- that the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a group founded and formerly headed by Jennings, "allowed" an explicit safe-sex brochure that included a bar guide "to be handed out to high school students." In fact, a community health group -- not GLSEN itself -- reportedly said that it had mistakenly "left about 10 copies" of the booklet on an informational table it rented at a 2005 GLSEN conference and GLSEN stated that if it had known the booklets had been at the conference, it would have demanded they be removed.
Wash. Times claimed GLSEN "allowed bar guides to be handed out to high school students"
From the December 11 Washington Times editorial, "Cruising gay bars with the 'safe schools czar' ":
Teenagers shouldn't drink alcohol. That's the policy of the United States government, which spends billions to enforce laws backing the policy, and it also is the position of pretty much every respectable organization in the nation, including the Department of Education. So naturally, when looking to fill the post of the nation's top school-safety official at the Education Department, President Obama chose a guy who founded and led an organization that allowed bar guides to be handed out to high school students.
The new whoops is a safe-sex guide distributed in a Massachusetts high school in 2005. Included in the book are the addresses and phone numbers of Boston-area gay bars to make it easier for teens to find the businesses that cater to homosexual men over the age of 21. The guide's descriptions of what goes on in these bars is explicit. Over here, there's "dancing, young guys and those who like young guys." Over there, the ambience is "old school, cruisy, sex-charged late at night." At another hot spot, there's "porn on the television, the old, the young. Something for everyone."
Now we'll see if encouraging drinking by minors is also part of the double standard. Local, state and federal governments spend billions to stop heterosexual teens from drinking, but future government officials can feel perfectly comfortable facilitating and encouraging underage drinking among homosexual kids. If the administration does nothing, that's exactly the message the Department of Education will send.
Jennings defenders accuse anyone who dares question this senior presidential appointee with hate and homophobia. That's a twisted moral universe where protecting homosexual minors from predators is "hate" while helping teens become conveniently alcohol-addled prey is, what ... love?
Community health group -- not GLSEN -- mistakenly brought 10 copies of booklet banned under GLSEN policy to the conference
Community health group apologized for "accidentally making available a small number of copies" of booklet at GLSEN conference. In a May 19, 2005, article, The Boston Globe reported:
Fenway Community Health officials yesterday said they left about 10 copies of the ''Little Black Book" on an informational table they rented at a conference sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network of Boston. The annual event, held on April 30 at Brookline High School, was aimed at high school students, educators, counselors, administrators, and parents.
The ''Little Black Book," produced by the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, is targeted at 18-and-older gay men, according to the committee. The book uses vivid descriptions and colloquial terms to describe the ways HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases can be prevented and spread.
A Fenway Community Health employee brought the pamphlets along with other materials and put them on the table by mistake, said Chris Viveiros, a spokesman for Fenway Community Health.
''Fenway Community Health regrets accidentally making available a small number of copies of the Little Black Book, an HIV-prevention publication for gay and bisexual men over the age of 18, at an event where young people were present," said Dr. Stephen Boswell, Fenway Community Health's president and CEO.
According to its website, Fenway Health "provides high quality, comprehensive health care" to "its community, which includes those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender"; its physicians "hold faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School"; and its "[r]esearch affiliations include Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Brown University Medical School."
GLSEN: Organization policy bans "sexually explicit material," book would not have been allowed if they knew about it. From the Globe article:
Sean Haley, executive director of the education network, which sponsored the conference, added: ''We have very clear policies that sexually explicit material of any kind will not be made available at the conference. Had I seen the book, I would have asked them to put it away."
At the start of the event, Haley said, network officials scanned each of the 10 tables it had rented, for $35 apiece, to outside groups. He said nobody saw the pamphlet at the time. ''We're just going to have to be more rigorous in our review of materials," he said.
Haley said that about 500 people attended the conference, roughly half of them students. He said only ''a handful" were younger than high-school aged.
Superintendent reportedly said he believed no students had received the book. On May 18, 2005, WHDH 7News Boston's Sean Hennessey reported that Brookline Superintendent of Schools William H. Lupini said that "none of his students, he believes, took the [Fenway] book home."
Anti-gay "hate group" MassResistance is source for right-wing media attacks on Jennings
MassResistance falsely claimed "hundreds of kids (middle school age and up)" were given explicit safe-sex booklet. A MassResistance Web page asserted that an explicit safe-sex booklet "was distributed to hundreds of kids (middle school age and up) at Brookline High School, Brookline, MA, on April 30, 2005," at a conference sponsored by GLSEN, which Jennings headed at the time [bold in original]. Gateway Pundit and BigGovernment.com are among the websites that have cited MassResistance in repeating the claim.
The Southern Poverty Law Center included MassResistance on its list of "Active U.S. Hate Groups in 2008." SPLC continued: "Anti-gay groups are organizations that go beyond mere disagreement with homosexuality by subjecting gays and lesbians to campaigns of personal vilification." Even conservative commentator Dean Barnett has stated that the organization "verges on being a hate group."
MassResistance leader compared gay rights movement to Nazis and denied gays and lesbians were targets in the Holocaust. Brian Camenker, longtime leader of MassResistance, has made numerous hate-filled assertions about gays and lesbians, including a comparison of the gay rights movement to the Nazis and the claim that gays and lesbians were not targets of the Holocaust.
Wash. Times also rehashes previous discredited attacks against Jennings
From the December 11 Washington Times editorial:
Once again, "safe schools czar" Kevin Jennings has been involved in making schools less safe. As always, this one was, whoops, a mistake. It is always a mistake. Whoops, while a teacher, he enabled a teenager to continue a sexual relationship with an older man whom the student had met in a bus-stop bathroom. Whoops, he praised one of the North American Man/Boy Love Association's most vociferous defenders. Whoops, the group Mr. Jennings founded, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, recommended books for children as young as 13 that present sex between minors and adults in a positive light.
Wash. Times baselessly claimed Jennings "enabled a teenager to continue a sexual relationship with an older man." In his 1994 book, Jennings described the student, named "Brewster," as "a charming but troubled kid" who "was not very happy with himself." Jennings wrote that he "didn't have a clue as to why -- at least not at first," and went on to describe an incident in which Brewster was brought into his office and discussed his homosexuality by telling "a story about his involvement with an older man he had met in Boston." Jennings wrote that he "listened, sympathized, and offered advice," and Brewster left his "office with a smile on his face" that Jennings "would see every time" he "saw him on the campus for the next two years, until he graduated." In a 2000 speech to GLSEN, Jennings said after Brewster told him of the incident involving an older man, "I 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.' " As Media Matters for America has previously reported, the student has confirmed that he was 16 at the time of the incident, which is and was the age of consent in Massachusetts. The Washington Times previously claimed that Jennings had "encouraged" the "statutory rape" of the student.
Wash. Times distorted Harry Hay comment to link Jennings to NAMBLA. Jennings mentioned Harry Hay in a 1997 speech to GLSEN, and the transcript was published by anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera. Jennings' praise was of Hay's work as an early gay rights activist and had nothing to do with NAMBLA, as the Times suggested. Jennings reportedly stated: "One of the people that's always inspired me is Harry Hay, who started the first ongoing gay rights groups in America. In 1948, he tried to get people to join the Mattachine Society. It took him two years to find one other person who would join. Well, [in] 1993, Harry Hay marched with a million people in Washington, who thought he had a good idea 40 years before."
Wash. Times again claimed GLSEN "recommended books for" teenagers "that present sex between minors and adults in a positive light." In the December 11 editorial, the Times claimed that GLSEN "recommended books for children as young as 13 that present sex between minors and adults in a positive light." On December 8, the Times claimed Jennings promoted relationships between children and "homosexual pedophiles" through GLSEN's reading list, which tries "to make sex between children and adults seem normal and acceptable." But the Times distorted at least one of the readings it cited as evidence. The Times claimed that a passage in Queer 13, one of the books on the GLSEN reading list, describes "a 13-year old boy who has sexual encounters with older men. His experience caused him to desperately want sex." The Times quoted the author as saying "that feeling of doing it to them and them doing the same for me was just too damn good." However, contrary to the suggestion that this passage depicted a child made "happy and fulfilled" by sexual encounters with older men, the author said his encounters included "brutal and painful experiences" and described this period of his life as "the beginning of my worthlessness." From Queer 13, page 45:
This was the year I realized I was helpless, different, wholly alone and defenseless. This was the beginning of my worthlessness. It was always pointed out to me that I wasn't good enough and that there was always someone somewhere doing better, and that no matter what I did, I could still have done better.
Times obsessively pursuing anti-gay war on Jennings
Wash. Times penned 10 other editorials smearing Jennings. According to a Nexis search, the Times' editorial board has written at least 10 other editorials specifically targeting Jennings since September 28. At least two additional editorials published during that period portrayed him in a negative light.
Editorials advanced falsehoods and distortions to discredit Jennings. As Media Matters has extensively documented, a number of the Times' editorials targeting Jennings advanced false claims or distortions and are riddled with anti-gay rhetoric.