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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kevin Jennings : Create an environment of respect: what's wrong with that?

Fifty-three House Republicans who have signed a letter to the Obama administration asking for the ouster of Kevin Jennings, an official charged with promoting school safety" ignored that a key claim in the letter -- that Jennings has a "history of ignoring the sexual abuse of a child" -- is false.

The letter stated: 

“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’s schools — an agenda that runs counter to the values that many parents desire to instill in their children.” 

The claim that Kevin Jennings counseled an underage youth to at least use a condom with another, older man, has been debunked. 

But that is not even the issue for me. 

The attempt to put the Obama administration off track by focussing attention on Mr. Jennings is really about the fact that he has been a tireless proponent of making schools safe places for gay and questioning youth. For some people, this seems to mean "promoting homosexuality" (alla: recruiting). It is a tired argument. Being gay is not a choice and making schools a safe place for those youth who figure out their orientation earlier than I did (congratulations to them!) is not forcing the other, straight students to question their own orientation. It is asking them to reconsider bias and prejudice. 

Somehow, gays + schools bring out the worst in already severely biased people, but also stirs hidden or suppressed biases in otherwise enlightened people. Let's not be "shocked" by what we see, as we are clearly reminded where the culture wars stand by cases like Kevin Jennings.

Check out GLSTN

Young people are coming out of a closet of denial and fear at younger
ages than ever before, due in large part to the support systems
developed for and by them over years. The coming out experience for many
young people involves an interactive process between the individual and
her or his environment, beginning often with a general awareness of
being somehow different, through denial, tolerance, acceptance, and, in
many cases, to identity integration.

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