Fox Nation, Big Government advance smear that Jennings is “linked to shocking sex talk”

Fox Nation and Big Government are trumpeting the latest smear on Department of Education official Kevin Jennings: that Jennings is, in the words of Fox Nation, “linked to shocking teen sex talk,” referring to a recorded exchange that occurred during a “Queer Sex and Sexuality” workshop during a 2000 conference sponsored by Jennings' organization, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). In fact, Jennings reportedly criticized “some of the” workshop's “content” when the recordings were first released in 2000, and the people involved in conducting the controversial discussion -- none of whom were GLSEN employees -- were either terminated or resigned.

Fox Nation, Big Government attempt to link Kevin Jennings to “shocking sex talk” at GLSEN conference

Fox Nation: “Safe School Czar Linked To Shocking Teen Sex Talk.” In a December 7 post titled “Safe School Czar Linked to Shocking Teen Sex Talk,” Fox Nation linked to and quoted a December 5 Gateway Pundit post stating that in 2000, GLSEN held a conference that “made it clear that the organization was not so much about tolerance as it was about teaching children about sex.”

Screen capture of Fox Nation headline

Big Government posts “a shocking report on Obama's deviant Safe School Czar Kevin Jennings.” On December 7, Big Government posted an item that reprinted some of the December 5 Gateway Pundit article, which Big Government called “a shocking report on Obama's deviant Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings.” The Big Government post included an audio clip from a workshop during the 2000 GLSEN conference in which participants discussed sexual behavior. The Big Government item claimed that “this is not about supporting or not supporting gays or gay rights. This post is about the radical agenda of groups like GLSEN and activists like Kevin Jennings.”

In fact, Jennings criticized the content of the workshop, and the workshop's organizers were fired or resigned

Boston Herald: GLSEN, Jennings “agreed” that seminar leaders “crossed a line.” On May 18, 2000, the Boston Herald 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.” From the Herald:

“Like the Parents Rights Coalition and the Department of Education, GLSEN is also troubled by some of the content that came up during this workshop,” said Kevin Jennings, national executive director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

He said people who run workshops in the future will get clearer guidelines, though Jennings said the network's annual conference at Tufts University should not be judged on the 30-student seminar “What They Didn't Tell You About Queer Sex and Sexuality in Health Class.”

“We need to make our expectations and guidelines to outside facilitators much more clear,” said Jennings. “Because we are surprised and troubled by some of the accounts we've heard.” [Boston Herald, 5/18/2000, accessed via Nexis]

Boston Globe: Jennings expressed “concerns” about workshop discussion. In a May 18, 2000, Boston Globe article (accessed via Nexis), Jennings criticized the contents of the tape, saying that “from what I've heard, I have concerns as well,” and that sexual educational programs “need to be delivered in an age appropriate and sensitive manner.” He also claimed that his organization was being unfairly criticized by the Parents Rights Coalition, which had attended the workshop and taped it. According to Jennings: "[T]he people who have the tape know what our mission is, they know that our work is about preventing harassment and they know that session was not the totality of what was offered at a conference with over 50 sessions. Our mission is being misrepresented."

The seminar's organizers were fired or resigned as a result. According to a May 20, 2000, Boston Herald article, of the three state Department of Education employees or contractors who led the seminar, one was fired, one resigned, and one had his contract canceled, as a result of the discussion. From the Boston Herald: “One presenter at the workshop was fired and a second resigned. In explaining his actions yesterday, [then-Massachusetts state education czar David P.] Driscoll said the sessions 'went too far' with explicit discussions about sexual techniques. Driscoll said he had canceled the contract of a third presenter at the March workshop, which included frank talk about how to use a condom and how to perform oral sex.”