With the resignation of Van Jones and the sinking of ACORN, the right-wing noise machine sits on a mighty perch. The mainstream media shows every sign of capitulating to their new pimp, at the ready to swarm whatever prey is selected for them. The latest victim-to-be is the Obama administration’s “Safe Schools Czar,” Kevin Jennings.
Before I get to deconstructing the mountain of smears against Kevin Jennings, let me tell you what he has done. Kevin Jennings has made our nation’s schools safer, for my children and yours. As the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network and the author of several books, he has striven to end discrimination in our schools, and to foster an environment that values diversity.
As the father of 2 teenage boys, one of whom is openly bisexual, the work that Kevin Jennings has done engenders a particular gratitude in me. Before I ever knew his name, Kevin Jennings touched the lives of my 2 oldest boys when they each joined their school’s Gay/Straight Alliance.
There may be some who are unmoved by the plight of LGBT students and their quadruple suicide rate, and to them, I say that anti-gay bullying doesn’t just kill gay kids.
I remember reading in April that an 11 year-old boy had hung himself due to anti-gay taunts, and that his was the 5th such suicide this year. The idea that being called gay is so horrible that you’re better off dead is not something that can be fought with zero-tolerance policies, or enforced by teachers who still think certain kids “make themselves targets” for bullies. It has to be fought in the hearts and minds of our children.
This is why Kevin Jennings must not be driven out of office. His work has helped my son to feel safe enough to be open about who he is. My son tells me, however, that at back-to-school night last week, there were parents ripping GSA posters down off of the school walls. Kevin Jennings still has a lot of work to do.
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