Contact: Wayne Besen
Americans Are Tired of the Politics of Personal Destruction, Says TWO
NEW YORK — Truth Wins Out criticized the on-going smear campaign that anti-gay organizations and politicians are orchestrating against Kevin Jennings, who is serving as the Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.
“We are witnessing a disgraceful political hit job filled with baseless allegations, ugly innuendo and outright homophobia,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “Kevin Jennings is a hero that has saved the lives of many students and is eminently qualified for his position. Thanks to his work, countless gay youth were able to concentrate on scholastic success instead of basic survival or even suicide.”
Jennings, the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight, Education Network (GLSEN) has the support of the National Association of School Psychologists , Learning First Alliance , National Education Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Council for Exceptional Children and the Social Workers Association of America.
The groundless attacks intensified after fifty-three House Republicans signed a letter to the Obama administration asking for the dismissal of Jennings. “As the founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Mr. Jennings has played an integral role in promoting homosexuality and pushing a pro-homosexual agenda in America’ schools –an agenda that runs counter to the values that many parents desire to instill in their children,” the lawmakers write.
“Jennings “real agenda’ was promoting tolerance and stopping children from essentially getting mugged in schools because of their real or perceived sexual orientation,” said Besen. “These attempts to slime Jennings have nothing to do with his exemplary record or qualifications. Instead, extremists are trying to use Jennings as a proxy to further their culture war.
“When America elected Barack Obama,” Besen continued, “they wanted to end the politics of personal destruction and transcend politics as usual. People are tired of the lies, distortions and roaring rhetoric and it is time that anti-gay activists retire such tactics.”
The smears began when right wing media outlets irresponsibly reported that Jennings counseled a fifteen-year-old student who was allegedly having a relationship with a twenty-four year old man. They claimed he instructed the young man to use a condom, while he should have reported the illegal relationship to the authorities.
However, the truth is, the young man was actually 16, the legal age of consent, and no sexual relations actually occurred. The suggestion of condom use, if the young man had chosen to be sexually active, was appropriate, given the alternative was that he may have contracted HIV if he was ignorant on how to protect himself.
Media Matters tracked down the young man in question, Brewster, who said:
“In 1988, I had taken a bus home for the weekend, and on the return trip met someone who was also gay. The next day, I had a conversation with Mr. Jennings about it. I had no sexual contact with anybody at the time, though I was entirely legally free to do so. I was a sixteen year-old going through something most of us have experienced: adolescence.
“I find it regrettable that the people who have the compassion and integrity to protect our nation’s students are themselves in need of protection from homophobic smear attacks. Were it not for Mr. Jennings’ courage and concern for my well-being at that time in my life, I doubt I’d be the proud gay man that I am today.”
“It is beyond ridiculous that Jennings is being criticized for giving advice on a legal relationship that never even occurred,” said TWO’ Wayne Besen. “These abusive attacks are immoral and despicable and show that the modern Republican Party must resort to below the belt politics to hold onto its dwindling support.
“It is surreal that the GOP is once again posing as the party of family values,” continued Besen “One would think they were too busy walking the Appalachian Trail or applauding the “family values’ of Sens. David Vitter and John Ensign to even notice Jennings. Why is a party that is a billboard for bad behavior still preaching to America? Jennings is an outstanding educator and upstanding citizen. He should be left alone to do his job and educate America’ children.”
Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that counters anti-gay propaganda, exposes the “ex-gay” myth and educates America about gay life. For more information, visit TruthWinsOut.org.