In return to Jennings beat, FoxNews.com's Lott rehashes book smear

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

In an article headlined "Obama's Safe Schools Czar Tied to Lewd Readings for 7th Graders," FoxNews.com's Maxim Lott reported that Department of Education official Kevin Jennings "is under fresh attack after it was revealed that the pro-gay group he formerly headed recommends books his critics say are pornographic." But Lott did not note until the 13th paragraph of his article that the list of books recommended by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) for grades 7-12 included the disclaimer that they "contain mature themes" and the recommendation that "adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability"; moreover, at least two of the "critics" cited by Lott have a history of anti-gay bigotry.

FoxNews.com reports in headline that books were "for 7th graders"; leaves disclaimer for 13th paragraph

Article headlined "Obama's Safe Schools Czar Tied to Lewd Readings for 7th Graders." From the December 14 article:

Screen capture of FoxNews.com headline

Context also missing from FoxNews.com promotion of article. From the front page of FoxNews.com as of 2:40 p.m. ET on December 14:

Screen capture of FoxNews.com's front page:

Not until 13th paragraph does Lott report that GLSEN recommends that "adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability." From the article:

GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard defended her group's recommendations, telling FoxNews.com in a written statement:

"Some of the books that might be used with young adult audiences contain mature content, as is true of many memoirs and works of literature. Because of the presence of mature content in some of the works, GLSEN provides very clear guidelines throughout, recommending that adults review each book to make sure the book is suitable."

Those guidelines, listed on each book recommendation page, read: "All BookLink items are reviewed by GLSEN staff for quality and appropriateness of content. However, some titles for adolescent readers contain mature themes. We recommend that adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability."

But critics say the guidelines themselves are damning, because they confirm that GLSEN staff have checked the books for appropriateness. And Jennings, they point out, was in charge at the time.

Books are not specifically intended for 7th graders. Contrary to his article's headline, Lott makes clear that the books are "recommended for students in grades 7-12" after review by adults for "suitability" -- not specifically intended for "7th graders."

Sprigg, LaBarbera -- the "critics" cited by Lott -- have history of anti-gay bigotry

Lott cites FRC's Sprigg to attack "the graphic sexual content of these books." Lott wrote:

Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, says the content of the books is shocking, and it raises concerns about Jennings' judgment.

"The graphic sexual content of these books is so extreme that I think any average parent or citizen, regardless of how they feel about homosexuality, would be shocked at these books being recommended to young people," Sprigg said.

[...]

But Sprigg disagrees that books like "The Color Purple" are comparable to those recommended by GLSEN.

"We are not talking about 'The Great Gatsby' or 'The Grapes of Wrath' here," he said. "A lot of people who have only read the news and opinion pieces on this story, without reading the actual excerpts, may think that we are talking about the kind of sexual content that might, in a film, earn a PG-13 or R rating. We are not.

"This is material that, if portrayed visually, would be a triple-X hard-core porn film, and quite possibly meet the legal definition of obscenity. In fact, I think the homosexual content is the only thing preventing the outcry from being even greater, because some people fear being labeled as 'anti-gay.' If the content were heterosexual in nature, there would be no one defending it at all."

Sprigg previously said he preferred to "export homosexuals" rather than "import them." In a 2008 interview with Medill News Service, discussing a bill that would make it easier for gay and lesbian Americans to sponsor their foreign partners' citizenship, Sprigg stated: "I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society." In a subsequent statement, Sprigg said he "used language that trivialized the seriousness of the issue and did not communicate respect for the essential dignity of every human being as a person created in the image of God" and apologized "for speaking in a way that did not reflect the standards which the Family Research Council and I embrace."

Lott cites LaBarbera's take on how Jennings "just doesn't realize he's working with kids here." From the article:

But critics say the guidelines themselves are damning, because they confirm that GLSEN staff have checked the books for appropriateness. And Jennings, they point out, was in charge at the time.

"It's like Jennings just doesn't realize he's working with kids here. ... You need a totally different set of rules when you're working with kids," said Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.

LaBarbera said the books should be seen in light of other recent controversies surrounding Jennings.

Lott offered no other discussion of LaBarbera or his organization.

LaBarbera's group "dedicated to exposing the homosexual activist agenda." According to its website, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality -- of which LaBarbera is president -- is "a group dedicated to exposing the homosexual activist agenda," and which "seeks to apply the same single-minded determination to opposing the radical homosexual agenda and standing for God-ordained sexuality and the natural family as countless homosexual groups do in promoting their harmful agenda."

LaBarbera reportedly attacked Obama administration nominee Berry as a "subversive ... homosexual activist." Christian news service OneNewsNow.com reported in February:

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, says [John] Berry [then-director of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, who since was confirmed as director of the Office of Personnel Management] has been flouting the spirit if not the letter of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars spousal recognition for same-sex couples.

"First of all, looking at Mr. Berry's track record, it's obvious that he's a homosexual activist within the federal government, doing a lot of things within a Republican administration that most people never were aware of," he contends. "So, what we have is sort of a subversive -- if you could call it that -- homosexual activist, and now he's going to have an even much more visible and powerful role at OPM, which is a very powerful job in Washington. And it just shows what's going to happen under the Obama administration."

LaBarbera on Jennings "This is all about homosexuality and the 'gay' activist agenda whose singular goal is to normalize homosexuality as a 'civil right.' " In a December 8 blog post, LaBarbera wrote:

One more point: it is now common for conservatives -- especially non-religiously-affiliated media leaders like Sean Hannity (who should be applauded for his yeoman's work exposing Jennings) -- to make the odd disclaimer that the GLSEN/Jennings controversy (or whatever "gay"-related culture-war story they are discussing) "is not about homosexuality." Baloney. This is all about homosexuality and the "gay" activist agenda whose singular goal is to normalize homosexuality as a "civil right."

Jennings' role in the wider GLBT movement is to promote homosexuality and gender confusion (transgenderism: cross-dressing, etc.) to impressionable youth through the schools (public and private). It is absurd and intellectually dishonest to claim that this highly organized and well-funded campaign is somehow not about ... homosexuality! (Which is not to deny that some or even many homosexuals agree with us that Jennings' "gay-youth" agenda is reckless.)

Only a Homosexual Movement unified by a morality- and normality-rejecting ideology that aims to mainstream sinful, deviant, and once-taboo behaviors could produce such perverse 'Recommended Readings' for students as GLSEN -- complete with fictional, "non-judgmental" accounts of man-boy sex. Only a movement that defiantly calls itself "queer" could produce "Fistgate" -- a GLSEN-sponsored youth conference at Tufts University in 2000, at which underage children were verbally guided by homosexual adults on how to engage in the vile, sadomasochistic act of 'fisting' -- hand-anal penetration (yes, truth is stranger than fiction).

The politically correct "not-about-gays" caveat is about illogical as claiming that the effort to expose systematic human rights abuses in China and North Korea "has nothing to with Communism." Anyone who calls himself "conservative" should know better. Besides, true conservatives should not be ashamed of enthusiastically conserving the age-old Judeo-Christian sexual/marriage ethic -- which has served mankind well and which rejects all efforts to approve of unnatural and destructive sexual behaviors condemned by God.

Lott previously sought to confirm his wildly inaccurate Jennings reporting after the fact

Lott reported as fact falsehood that student Jennings counseled was an "underage" "15-year-old." Lott reported in a September 23 article that Jennings "detailed an incident in which he did not report an underage student who told him he was having sex with older men." In a September 30 article, Lott reported that Jennings "acknowledged Wednesday that he 'should have handled [the] situation differently' years ago when he was a schoolteacher and didn't report that a 15-year-old boy told him that he was having sex with an older man." At the time, significant evidence -- including a 2004 letter from Jennings' lawyer -- indicated that the student in question was 16 years old, the legal age of consent in Massachusetts.

After the publication of his second article, Lott attempted to contact the former student. In a Facebook exchange, Lott asked the former student whether he had "seen the controversy surrounding Kevin Jennings recently," and asked whether it was "accurate" that "you were 15 when he gave you the advice." The former student replied that he "was 16 when Kevin gave me the advice he gave me." The former student subsequently confirmed his age in a statement to Media Matters and by making public his Massachusetts driver's license.

FoxNews.com Editor's Note: Former student "was 16 years old, not 15." An Editor's Note appended to Lott's September 23 and 30 articles states: "Since this story was originally published, the former student referred to as 'Brewster' has stepped forward to reveal that he was 16 years old, not 15, at the time of the incident described in this report."

Lott echoes Wash. Times editorial, distorts passages of books to suggest authors unequivocally promoted teens having sex with adults

Lott reported on passages from three of the books "targeted for children between Grades 7 to 12," two of which are from the same essays previously cited by The Washington Times as evidence that the books "clearly promote homosexuality and promiscuity," including "kids having sex with adults." But like the Times, Lott omited the portions of those essays in which the authors make clear that they are not promoting those practices.

Lott omits Queer 13 essay author's description of his sexual encounters as "the beginning of my worthlessness." Lott writes:

One recommended book is titled "Queer 13: Lesbian and Gay Writers Recall Seventh Grade." On pages 43 through 45, writer Justin Chin tells of how as a 13-year-old, he went along with "near-rapes" by older men, but "really did enjoy those sexual encounters." Chin also recounts each sexual action he performed with an "ugly f*** of a man" he met on a bus.

In fact, while the author writes, "I was scared about what I was doing, scared of God's judgment and of being caught in all those rest rooms and parks, but I really did enjoy those sexual encounters," the author said his encounters included "brutal and painful experiences, near-rapes, but through it all, I never thought that I had the ability to say no." The author also described this period of his life as "the beginning of my worthlessness." From Queer 13, Page 45:

This was the year I realized I was helpless, different, wholly alone and defenseless. This was the beginning of my worthlessness. It was always pointed out to me that I wasn't good enough and that there was always someone somewhere doing better, and that no matter what I did, I could still have done better.

Specifically regarding the encounter with the "ugly f*** of a man," the author wrote:

He pulled up his trousers and left me in the toilet stall confused, frightened, crying, and praying to God for forgiveness of my horrible sin. I spent a good deal of time locked in the stall, trying to clean up, trying to wipe the smell of that act off with wet toilet paper, but I was doused in the stench of that man and what he had done.

This incident should have soured me on men, but it only made me more confused and needful. [Queer 13, Page 44]

Lott omits Passages of Pride subject's statements that relationship with older man due to "coercion," "isolation," and author's description as "exploitative." Lott writes:

In another book, "Passages of Pride," the author writes about a 15-year-old boy's relationship with a much older man.

"Near the end of summer, just before starting his sophomore year in high school, Dan picked up a weekly Twin Cities newspaper. Scanning the classifieds, he came upon an ad for a "Man-2-Man" massage. Home alone one day, he called the telephone number listed in the ad and set up an appointment to meet a man named Tom. ... Even though Tom was older, almost twice Dan's age, Dan felt unthreatened by him. Dan admits Tom was a 'troll' in every sense of the word -- an older closeted gay man seeking sex with a man much younger. But Dan says he was not intimidated by the discrepancy in their ages. 'He kind of had me in a corner in that he knew I didn't have access to anything I wanted.' says Dan. 'But everything was consensual.' "

But in the very next paragraph of his essay, the author writes:

The encounters with Tom were "a mix of coercion and hormones," Dan acknowledges. But he knew no other way, he adds defensively. He had no gay peers in school and no contact with the gay community in the city. In his isolation, he was left to his own devices, Dan says. Tom became a convenient way into the city and an available, albeit exploitative, link for Dan as he established his homosexual identity. [Passages of Pride, Page 34]

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, LGBT
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, FoxNews.com
Person
Maxim Lott
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