Smear: Kevin Jennings Taught Adolescents How To Perform Sexual Acts
Right-wing and religious groups are targeting the new Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools, Kevin Jennings. Their newest attack, known as "fistgate," falsely alleges that Jennings hosted a seminar to teach high school students how to perform sexually explicit acts.
As founder of GLSEN, Kevin Jennings taught adolescents how to perform sexually explicit acts.
Accuracy In Media Was Forced To Issue A Correction, Admitting "We Have No Evidence To Support Those Specific Charges."
Accuracy in Media regrets the publication of a blog entry accusing Department of Education official Kevin Jennings, a homosexual activist, of being a pedophile and personally teaching perverted sexual practices to young people. We have no evidence to support those specific charges. The blog entry was posted by an intern without permission, and has been taken down.
Jennings Did Not Conduct, Nor Support, Seminar
First noted by our partner organization, Media Matters for America:
Seminar conducted by non-GLSEN personnel at GLSEN-sponsored conference. As Media Matters for America has detailed, the controversial session -- one of "over 50 sessions" at the 2000 conference sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), according to Jennings, founder of the group -- was run "by two [Massachusetts] Department of Education AIDS-HIV education specialists and a consultant to the department," as reported in a May 18, 2000, Boston Herald article retrieved from the Nexis database.
Jennings reportedly "surprised and troubled" by accounts of the session. The May 18 Herald article reported that GLSEN "agreed yesterday that three workshop leaders crossed a line with raunchy content directed at students as young as 14 years old." In the article, Jennings, who was the executive director of GLSEN at the time, was quoted saying, "We need to make our expectations and guidelines to outside facilitators much more clear because we are surprised and troubled by some of the accounts we've heard." In a May 18, 2000, Boston Globe article (from Nexis), Jennings criticized the contents of the seminar, saying that "from what I've heard, I have concerns as well" and that sex-education programs "need to be delivered in an age appropriate and sensitive manner."
Even Gateway Pundit admitted Jennings himself did not conduct the seminar. In support of her claims that Jennings is on tape "teaching 14-year-old boys the dangerous sexual practice of 'fisting,' and discussing with them the particulars of oral sex," Duzett linked to two Gateway Pundit blog posts on the seminar. But while their headlines suggest that Jennings himself is on tape conducting the seminar, Gateway Pundit has noted that the Department of Education staffers, not Jennings himself, are the ones on tape.
The Smear Originated From An Anti-Gay "Hate Group"
MassResistance falsely claimed "hundreds of kids (middle school age and up)" were given explicit safe-sex booklet. A MassResistance Web page asserted that an explicit safe-sex booklet "was distributed to hundreds of kids (middle school age and up) at Brookline High School, Brookline, MA, on April 30, 2005," at a conference sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which Jennings headed at the time [boldface in original]. Gateway Pundit and BigGovernment.com are among the websites that have cited MassResistance in repeating the claim. In fact, a community health group -- not GLSEN itself -- reportedly said that it had mistakenly "left about 10 copies" of the booklet on an informational table it rented at the conference; the group reportedly apologized for doing so; GLSEN stated that if it had known the booklets had been at the conference, it would have demanded they be removed; and the Brookline school superintendent reportedly said he believed no students had actually taken any of the books.
Smear that Jennings is "linked to shocking sex talk" based on MassResistance video. In 2000, MassResistance videotaped a workshop for students at a GLSEN-sponsored conference that included explicit discussions of sex. While MassResistance did not claim that Jennings participated in the controversial session, some right-wing bloggers, including from Gateway Pundit and Accuracy in Media, have nevertheless used the MassResistance video to falsely claim Jennings was directly involved in the session or even made the presentation himself. In fact, Jennings reportedly criticized the content of the session after he became aware of it, and the Massachusetts Department of Education employees who led the session in question either resigned or were fired.
MassResistance makes unsupported assertion that Jennings knew of session's content beforehand. In a December 8 blog post -- repeated by Gateway Pundit, BigGovernment, and WorldNetDaily.com -- MassResistance asserted: "Of course Jennings and the Massachusetts Department of Education knew beforehand what the 'sexuality educators' would discuss with children at the 'fisting' workshop" [emphasis in original]. But as Media Matters for America has noted, the statements MassResistance cites instructor Margot Abels of reportedly making indicate only that her immediate supervisors in the Department of Education were aware of her work -- not Jennings or other GLSEN officials. Moreover, while MassResistance claims that Jennings "worked hand in hand with the Mass. Department of Education from the beginning, as co-chair of the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth education committee," Jennings left that commission years before the 2000 workshop took place.