Jennings TMI Czar Not Safe, Needs Schooling

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.


Comments

  1. Sorry but Jennings’s lawyer wrote a statement in 2004 saying that the young man was of legal age:

    http://mediamatters.org/research/200910010024

  2. It doesn’t make the situation okay, even if it was true.

  3. Gayle, your use of a very poorly written fox news account shows me that you came to a conclusion about Mr. Jennings and sought something to back it. Kevin Jennings has a distinguished record of protecting children. In his book he admits his failings and the circumstances surrounding his failure, especially in this particular case. Your appraisal of events and self-serving judgment strikes me as eerily similar to Sen. Frist’s “diagnosis” of Terri Schiavo via videotape.

    You weren’t there. Your regurgitation of words isn’t the same as facts.

    I don’t know if you are in the classroom now or what grade levels you may teach. I believe a young person dealing with his or her sexual orientation would be ill served by your ignorance and selfish agenda. Thankfully, Kevin Jennings and those who align themselves with similar values are becoming more available to young people and that is a good thing.

  4. Donutwarrior says

    Media Matters is not a credible source, period. They routinely lie about what people said, so why should I trust them? In fact the following proves it unless Jennings was lying to this GLSEN conference:

    From ABC News Politcal Punch Blog:

    As Jennings wrote:

    “’Brewster has something he needs to talk with you about,’ she intoned ominously. Brewster squirmed at the prospect of telling, and we sat silently for a short while. On a hunch, I suddenly asked ‘What’s his name?’ Brewster’s eyes widened briefly, and then out spilled a story about his involvement with an older man he had met in Boston. I listened, sympathized, and offered advice. He left my office with a smile on his face that I would see every time I saw him on the campus for the next two years, until he graduated.”

    Jennings in 2000 told a GLSEN conference that Brewster told him he “’met someone in the bus station bathroom and I went home with him.’ High school sophomore, 15 years old. That was the only way he knew how to meet gay people. I was a closeted gay teacher, 24 years old, 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.’”

    That Jennings knew of a sexually active 15-year-old, of any gender, involved with “an older man” and didn’t take steps to report that relationship to the student’s parents or to authorities has made him a target for criticism — long before he was put in charge of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.

  5. Donutwarrior, stop telling lies:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkW10eA6_6Q

    The young person in question was not underage. Mr. Jennings career as an advocate for students is to be honored, not leveraged for partisan gain.

  6. Annie Hoyle says

    The young person in question was 16 years of age (when he reported it). Have you ever had a 16 year old child, Kenny jacobs? Mr. Jennings cannot related to 90% of the population! I don’t see his value… especially in light of his poor judgement (I don’t care WHEN it was, he has shown poor and dangerous judgement PERIOD!) You can’t make those types of mistakes when dealing with young lives. There are so many more qualified people for that position!

  7. Annie, again with the “only the opinions of parents count,” argument? That’s precious. How about we require only the parents of gay children weigh in on this? That’s your “logic” taken to its’ reasonable conclusion.

    I’m fascinated how many SA readers automatically question the participation of those who don’t agree with them.

    There have been outright lies written on this thread and that is deplorable but no one with the “right” philosophy seems to care about truth, just scoring cheap points. What kind of judgment does that indicate, Annie?

    BTW, the young man in question has released a statement:

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/200910020029

    Thank goodness Kevin Jennings is doing this work on behalf of ALL students!

  8. Those two years, if accurate, matter little. I don’t care if the kid was 20 at the time, the guy let this desperate soul go on and he KNEW it. Are you a counselor Kenny?

  9. Would it be too much to ask that Gayle gets the basic facts of the story correct before concocting completely unsubstantiated claims – especially that Jennings was ‘titillated’ and ‘stimulated’ by details the young man was supposedly talking to him about.

  10. Would the blue man crew face the facts? This child’s age has changed three times in the media, to the point that I won’t be shocked if he states he lived at the Neverland Ranch and the ‘older man’ owned a sparkled glove!

    Every case I’ve testified in as a counselor, regarding abuse of this kind, includes the players trying to buy off the parties. Jennings admits he should have done more. If the boy was of age, why then? He listened to him and recommended trojans. That’s about all any planned parenthood ‘counselor’ offers in therapeutic delivery. His story does not add up, and you have no understanding of countertransference then. Now when you go to wikipedia to find out what it is, well no wait, you’re an expert so there ya go.

    Blue Dudes– produce YOUR credentials– I’m about as transparent as I can be.

  11. Annie Hoyle says

    “Annie, again with the ‘only the opinions of parents count,’ argument?”

    Kenny,
    I am not saying your opinion doesn’t count, I was really asking you if you’ve had a teenager! I am going to assume by your answer that you haven’t. It really brings a very humble perspective when you are raising kids in the matter of discussing kids. It just makes sense!

    My heart goes out to the parents of the 15 or 16 year old boy we are discussing. I really would love to hear what they have to say regarding this matter and how they feel about how their son’s situation was handled.

    That is my perspective, Kenny, as a parent whose every waking thought has to do with the safety and happiness of my children. It matters when discussing children where you are coming from… it really matters!

  12. Gayle – the fact that all you have to justify your opinion on is your credentials shows how vacuous your entire post is. The fact you have credentials makes it even worse that you are attempting to ‘diagnose’ someone through space and time based on a flimsy article from Fox news.

  13. Annie, thank you for your perspective. Now here’s mine: I have seen teenagers who have been kicked out of her/his home by parents because of ignorance about sexual orientation. There are teenagers right now who should be attending school but don’t because of anti-gay bullying. Thank goodness Tucson has a program for these targets of bigotry:

    http://www.wingspan.org/content/WYP.php

    and we have support for those parents, too:

    http://www.pflagtucson.org/

    Gayle, I owe you an apology. After re-reading your original post I now realize your only source for information about Mr. Jennings is Fox New. That leaves you at a distinct disadvantage. I had no right to assume you knew the full story or had all the facts. My bad.

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