Kevin Jennings is an Assistant Deputy Secretary in the Department of Education and he runs the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. His credentials and his commitment to student safety are impeccable.
Anyone who tells you that Kevin Jennings is not qualified for his job:
1. Is a big ol' homophobe
2. Is not looking after the best interests of students in America
3. Is looking out for the interests of a party working to position President Obama's support for gay equality as something other than personal commitment to social justice and his efforts to create a more perfect union
4. Is part of an effort to fire someone based on his sexual orientation.
Shame on the 53 Republican Congressmen who have signed a letter asking for Kevin Jennings' head on a silver platter. They have started a witch hunt. Van Jones was first. Now Kevin Jennings. I'm sure there is a list.
There. I've said it. For those of you who read my posts here, you know me to be fairly measured in my points of view. Today I don't feel measured.
I am mad. But I am going to take a deep breath and step back.
OK. The vast majority of Americans don't really believe that there are 29 states in which a gay or lesbian person can be fired no questions asked simply because of their sexual orientation (or perceived sexual orientation). This is why the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is so important.
And let's not forget the U.S. military. You get fired there too if they find out you are gay. It used to be that the military could hunt you out - now it is a kinder, gentler hunt. They call it "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
So let's just call it out for what it is. 53 Republican members of Congress are trying to get Kevin Jennings fired based on his sexual orientation. And that should enrage everyone regardless of their sexual orientation.
Kevin Jennings is highly qualified for this position. For twenty years, his work has been about the safety of kids in schools. He is hard wired as an advocate for those who are bullied - because they are gay, because they are perceived to be gay, because they are other, because they are perceived to be less than. Because they listen to kids use the word "gay" as a pejorative on the playground and feel threatened. Because for whatever reason, the kids who are bullied are second-class citizens in what can be a very rough neighborhood. And how easy is it to connect the dots between low self-esteem and drug abuse.
And you don't have to take my word for it. You could take a look at the very long list of education organizations that threw their support behind Kevin for this appointment - The National Association of School Psychologists, Learning First Alliance, National Education Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals, The Council for Exception Children and the Social Workers Association of America.
And oh, by the way, did the New York Times reach out to a single one of these education experts at the organizations listed above for any balance in its story this morning. I'll save you the trouble. No they did not.
Kevin Jennings and the leaders of these organizations endorsed Kevin have something in common. They care about the well being of kids.
Therein lies the difference. The 53 Republicans say they care about kids. But they care about politics. They care about creating a witch hunt because they have so very few other cards to play.
It's wrong. And it's scary. Witch hunts have a long rich history here in America and around the globe. A very ugly history.
Here's a list of the 53 members of Congress who have called for Kevin's resignation. Maybe it's time for us to do some calling.
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