by Gayle Plato
President Obama’s “safe schools czar” Kevin Jennings, is a gay man who openly counsels students and other educators regarding gay and lesbian issues, bullying. He has had a long history of up front and detailed work helping people. He’s written a book detailing his counsel he offered to a sad, gay boy in a desperate sexual relationship, with a much older man.
“In a statement, Jennings said: “Twenty one years later I can see how I should have handled this situation differently. I should have asked for more information and consulted legal or medical authorities.”‘ (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/09/30/obamas-safe-schools-czar-admits-bad-handling-teen-sex-case/)
Here’s the real problem with the situation. This boy was obviously reaching out and in a desperate situation as he was emotionally distraught. I grasp the sexual activity problem, but I see other issues here. Anyone who worked with Jennings back then can probably identify the kid, remembering the boy. Why is Jennings disclosing this? Oh and by the way, in 1988, I was working with youth-at-risk, kids doing drugs, having sex, and talking about it. We were all trained, worked as a team to help the kids. There were thorough guidelines in every state in the country back then, explaining the reporting of underage sexual activity. This educator broke the law- period.
My big issue screaming out is this: why was he letting this boy come in and tell such lurid stories? Was he a classroom teacher, talking 1:1 about sex with this kid? Um HUGE RED FLAG! Any teacher in 1988, and I was one then, would know this was wrong. It was beat into teachers heads, even back then- do not talk alone with kids about deeply personal issues without a) telling a colleague and b) involving a referral for therapy. It is also very wrong to USE THE CHILD as some personal stimulus!
One of the gravest errors, truly heinous, is the adult buying in and allowing the child’s lurid story to titillate the adult. I do not buy the story that the boy kept coming in to chat about his life and pain. Not one counselor I know would let the story telling ramble on- not one. It is the first mistake any therapist makes, and you cannot get out of grad school without nipping the tendency to let the client ramble. Yet, it is the core problem with all therapy. It is not the therapeutic disclosure for sake of healing, and solution-focused development. I could go on and on as I am highly suspicious of this dude, Mr. Safe School.
The boy was also, clearly at-risk and sending up the red flags for potential suicide–I am sorry but ALL HOMOSEXUAL children in desperate relationships are high on the suicide risk scale. That is not an opinion (http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/abstract/88/1/57).
Homosexuals live with the pain of being; it is not good, nor fair. It hurts my heart as I am not a conservative who feels homosexuality in and of itself is evil. I think promiscuity is the issue, not loving relationships. But nonetheless, a gay teen, struggling, in a sexual relationship with a significantly older man is a high-risk. This boy needed help and the guy knew it. He knew it then or he wouldn’t have let him talk so much. He was projecting his own angst onto the kid.
What if the same story, same boy, now disclosed that the older lover was a priest and he is going to sue Mr. Jennings for not helping him back then? Hmmm. If I met Jennings, I would say one sentence to him, and I am dead serious in this: “When you heard the boy, thinking of his issues and problems, did you ever fantasize about having sex with the boy?”
I wouldn’t put this guy, Kevin Jennings, in charge of any child safety program, safe schools, safe nothing. He is not qualified.