Republicans are backing the call from
conservatives that openly gay safe schools czar Kevin Jennings
resign, theHill.com reported.
Fifty-three House Republicans have
written to President Obama asking him to remove Jennings.
The lawmakers say Jennings is unfit for
the position because he's pushed “a pro-homosexual agenda.”
“We respectfully request that you
remove Kevin Jennings, the Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office
of Safe and Drug Free Schools, from your administration,” the
“It is clear that Mr. Jennings lacks
the appropriate qualifications and ethical standards to serve in this
Jennings, 45, is the former executive
director of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN),
a group he founded to address the issue of discrimination based on
sexual orientation and gender identity in the public school system.
Criticism of Jennings by conservatives
began soon after the administration announced his nomination. In a
June 2 press release, Peter LaBarbera, president of the anti-gay
group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), called
Jennings “radical” and “the antithesis of 'safety'.”
The conservative outcry has only grown
louder in recent weeks. Earlier in the month, conservative daily The
Washington Times, the same paper that paid a male prostitute for
the sex scandal story that nearly ended Congressman Barney Frank's
career over two decades ago, repeated claims that Jennings violated
Massachusetts law when he “covered up” the “sexual abuse” of
one of his students.
Over two decades ago while working at
the Concord Academy School in Massachusetts, Jennings counseled a
student who told him he was having an affair with an adult male.
Jennings reportedly told the student to “use a condom.”
Conservatives quickly pounced on the
story, calling the student a “minor” when he was over the age of
consent in Massachusetts and suggesting Jennings put the student in
danger by failing report the incident.
Iowa Representative Steve King was the
first member of Congress to demand Jennings' ouster. King is also
the primary backer of the letter.
In a statement released last week, King
said: “Despite serving as the 'safe schools' czar, Jennings has
demonstrated a willingness to look the other way on sexual abuse.
His life's work has been the promotion of homosexuality, even in
elementary schools, and he has demonstrated no qualifications to make
students safer in our schools. Jennings is committed to the 'safety'
of only a narrow portion of American students, while expressing
disdain for religion and traditional values.”
King, an ardent gay rights foe, has
previously compared gay men and lesbians to fairy tales, “Unicorns,
leprechauns, gay marriages in Iowa – these are things you will
never find because they just don't exist,” and continues to insist
that being gay is a choice.
“Their agenda is to shut down
preaching of faith from the pulpit,” King told One News Now
on the subject of Hate Crimes legislation. “Their agenda is to
force approval of the homosexual agenda. And destroy marriage
nationally is the follow up piece of this.”
The administration continues to back
Jennings, whom Education Secretary Arne Duncan has called “uniquely
qualified for the job.”
Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, the
nation's most powerful openly gay elected official, dismissed the
Republican outcry as an effort to keep anti-gay issues on the front
“This is just an effort to exploit
anti-gay feelings – they have this anti-gay view that they
understand is becoming less and less popular with the public,”
told the website.