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Jennings to leave education department

Timothy Kincaid

May 19th, 2011

Before there was “It Gets Better”, there was the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educators Network. And before Dan Savage used the internet and airwaves to reach kids to tell them to just hold on for a while longer, Kevin Jennings worked to set up places on campus where kids could be safe from bullying and where teachers and others could give help and support.

This has made Kevin Jennings one of the favorite targets of anti-gay activists. Homophobia cannot survive without reinforcement and there is no message more detrimental to the goals of those who seek to persecute children into compliance with social and religious demands than the message that they are okay as they are.

So when President Obama appointed Jennings to the Education Department’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, they went apoplectic. Jennings “has played an integral role in promoting homosexuality and pushing a pro-homosexual agenda in America’s schools—an agenda that runs counter to the values that many parents desire to instill in their children.” Or, in other words, how can Mommy and Daddy raise someone to despise gay people if the President appoints one of them there perverts?

And besides there is that tale from decades ago about how Jennings was unsure of what to say to a kid named “Brewster.” So, yeah, that proves something or other and justifies the – frankly shocking – level of contempt expressed towards the man.

Obama ignored the cries for Jennings’ firing and, for the most part, the raging animus has now leveled off to a simmer of ill will. But it seems that after two years, Jennings has had enough.

It has been an honor to serve in the Obama Administration and specifically on Secretary [Arne] Duncan’s leadership team at the Department of Education. I am incredibly excited to return to the nonprofit sector by joining the Be the Change team and working on issues like promoting public service and increasing economic opportunity, the kinds of critical challenges we must solve if America is to continue to thrive in the 21st century.

I wish Jennings well.

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