absentee parents

Where In The World Is Kevin Jennings?

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You know things are bad when even the gay media is turning its back on you (see: Human Rights Campaign). But this might be the beginning of gay backlash against Kevin Jennings, the safe schools czar, who so far has been attacked mostly by prejudiced hate groups on the right.

The Bay Area Reporter, which admittedly doesn’t hold too much clout in Washington, opines:

After almost a year in the position, however, we’re skeptical that Jennings, the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network and a former teacher, is up to the task.

Our unease is bolstered by the fact that Jennings has yet to give an interview to the LGBT press; and, as far as we know, the only public comment he’s given is a brief statement last year after he became a target of anti-gay groups (more on that later). Since April 2009, several young students have committed suicide because they were harassed and bullied by classmates, but Jennings has not been seen (or heard) on this issue, arguably one of the most critical for safer schools, which is the primary focus of his job.

They’re right: Jennings should be out front, leading the fight against school bullying. But his silence may not be entirely his doing. The Obama administration, knowing he’s been ripe for attacks, may have purposefully kept him in the shadows and away from the press, so he can operate the logistics of the White House’s bullying effort while not inviting the Traditional Values Coalition or the Family Research Council. That’s the call of Obama and his advisers (who Jennings should be among), and not exactly Jennings’ territory.

But if the White House doesn’t think the man they chose can face those attacks? That alone makes his appointment (and not necessarily the candidate) unqualified. Thus far, as the Reporter notes, the administration has been all but silent about gay-oriented bullying claiming the lives of American children. The only action we’ve witnessed thus far is the Department of Justice getting involved in a using Title IX to fight gender-based bullying.

Like Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius was for Obama’s health care plan, Jennings should be out there parading around the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which would create federal mandates to fight bullying in schools. He’s not. That doesn’t mean he should necessarily resign. That means he should start executing that part of his job immediately. Otherwise, not even hefty donations to Democrats should ensure job security.