scandal

Is There Anything Safe School Czar Kevin Jennings Can Say to Defend Himself?

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That Obama’s Safe School Czar Kevin Jennings has been dragged through the mud by conservatives isn’t new; they’ve been doing that since he took the post. But yesterday, after Queerty noted how terrible a job Jennings’ supporters are doing defending him, these, uh, “background points” arrived in our inbox. Curious.

Jennings, you’ll recall, is the gay former teacher who once advised a 15-year-old student at Concord Academy in Massachusetts (who came to him with news he was having a sexual relationship with an “older man”) to “use a condom,” rather than kill the relationship. (Oh, and he also founded GLSEN.) That’s provided plenty of ammunition for the Tony Perkins crowd — which we argued yesterday evolved into a different type of baseless attack.

And then Department of Education spokesman Justin Hamilton sent over these “background points and [a] statement we’ve issued” about all the hubub.

Allow us to copy/paste, because that’s what media flacks prefer:

· Kevin Jennings was 24 years old when he had the conversation with Brewster (the student).

· His leadership has been recognized by both Democrats and Republicans. Then Republican Governor William Weld appointed Kevin to an official commission.

· Kevin has a track record of accomplishment has won honors from groups such as the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Independent Schools, the National Education Association, and the Massachusetts Counselors Association.

And then there’s the statement from Jennings, who, as an educator, should know it’s improper style to begin a sentence with a number written in digits:

21 years later, I can see how I should have handled the situation differently. I should have asked for more information and consulted medical or legal authorities. Teachers back then had little training and guidance about this kind of thing. All teachers should have a basic level of preparedness. I would like to see the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools play a bigger role in helping to prepare teachers.”

So does that make things for Jennings (official title: “Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools”) all better now? Not quite. The right will still have the fuel it needs to continue attacking a gay man working under Obama. And Jennings’ supporters (the gays?) are being asked to excuse his behavior back when he was a teacher because he “had little training and guidance” when, we know full well, had a conservative done the same thing, he wouldn’t hear the end of it from us.