Kevin Jennings, the head of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, the founder of GLSEN, and an openly gay man, came under fire these past few weeks because the right thought they could get rid of him by accusing him of condoning statutory rape.
They found an obscure passage in one of Jennings's books where he talks about a conversation he had with a depressed, gay sophomore wherein the student said he had sex with a man he met at a bus station bathroom, and, because Jennings didn't grab the kid by the ear and drag him down to the police department to describe his shameful deed to police officers to become a matter of public record that his family and friends would have heard about, he obviously thinks pedophilia is A-OK. Everyone from the Washington Times to Fox News, from Michelle Malkin to Warren Throckmorton jumped on the bandwagon to beat this one into the ground, throw a huge hissy fit, and reify the idea that gay men are a sexual threat to America's children.
There have been two developments on that front. First, Media Matters found "Brewster"'s driver's license (above) and it shows that he was 16 at the time the story took place, which is the legal age of consent in Massachusetts. So the few people who thought this story was an issue because of the law can put their minds at ease, although I doubt Sean Hannity was jumping up and down demanding Jennings's head because he was concerned about how the law was being applied.
More important for the rest of us who live in reality, the supposed "victim" in the situation, Brewster, has spoken out. Those people on the right who were concerned for Brewster's well-being (again, I doubt that's too many people) can put their minds at ease:
Since I was of legal consent at the time, the fifteen-minute conversation I had with Mr. Jennings twenty-one years ago is of nobody's concern but his and mine. However, since the Republican noise machine is so concerned about my "well-being" and that of America's students, they'll be relieved to know that I was not "inducted" into homosexuality, assaulted, raped, or sold into sexual slavery.
In 1988, I had taken a bus home for the weekend, and on the return trip met someone who was also gay. The next day, I had a conversation with Mr. Jennings about it. I had no sexual contact with anybody at the time, though I was entirely legally free to do so. I was a sixteen year-old going through something most of us have experienced: adolescence. I find it regrettable that the people who have the compassion and integrity to protect our nation's students are themselves in need of protection from homophobic smear attacks. Were it not for Mr. Jennings' courage and concern for my well-being at that time in my life, I doubt I'd be the proud gay man that I am today.
Part of the motivation behind this attack is to make Obama look stupid. In fact, that's probably where 90% of this is coming from - had Bush appointed Kevin Jennings, Michelle Malkin would be defending the choice. Or, more to the point, no one would have heard anything since I doubt the left or liberals have either the skills or the motivation to drum up a hissy fit on a passage from Jennings's book.
While general teabaggery is the fuel for this faux outrage, the oxygen sustaining the fire is homophobia. The right's digging around for stuff to whine about. A story about a gay teacher who started an effective gay organization being nominated to head an office to protect teh childrenz got them searching; him saying that one of teh childrenz told him he had butt sex, and Jennings did nothing to mete out justice-Texas-style, was enough to send them over the edge.
Yes, this is about throwing an egg in Obama's face. But if this story didn't involve a gay teen, a gay man, and sex, then there wouldn't have been a fire.