A senior official of the Department of Education expressed regret today for an incident that happened when he was a young teacher in the late 1980s, saying he should have handled it differently, but that society could benefit from his error.
Kevin Jennings, director of the Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools and founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), has been criticized by social conservatives for a passage in his 1994 book “One Teacher In Ten.” At the time, only a few people knew that Jennings, then a 24-year-old teacher at Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts, was gay. In the Spring of 1988, a young woman who knew Jennings was gay, brought to his office a high school sophomore whom Jennings called “Brewster” in the book.
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. [...]
Administration officials point out that Jennings has received accolades from the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Independent Schools, the National Education Association, and the Massachusetts Counselors Association, and he has been named to a commission by former Republican Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.
And people think it would be a good idea for children to go to school for more days and longer hours? Really?Let's get this straight: a "safe" school is, apparently, one where a 15-year-old can be counseled on his gay relationship with an older stranger he met in a public bathroom, a 14-year-old can get a ride to Planned Parenthood so her parents won't find out about her abortion, a 13-year-old can get free condoms--but nobody can hear a passage from the Bible, not even at a graduation ceremony, lest they be scarred for life by hearing a religious message on secular ground.
What kind of nation enables kids in their premature sexual endeavors but shields them from anything smacking of religion or morality? Sadly, our kind of nation.