December 19, 2009
Library group defends Jennings, dirty-books for kids
Accuses critics of 'undermining' tolerance, free inquiry, self-determination, democracy
By Bob Unruh
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following includes descriptions of adult themes and objectionable subject material.
The chairman of the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee has launched a defense of Kevin Jennings and the sexually explicit books recommended for children by the homosexual advocacy organization that Jennings started, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network.
"Though Jennings' and GLSEN's critics claim to be upholding American morals and values by condemning the GLSEN book list, they are actually undermining the values of tolerance, free inquiry, and self-determination that inform and sustain our democratic way of life in the United States," said Martin Garnar in a statement.
"Stigmatizing particular ideas and engaging in unfounded personal attacks in an effort to censor and suppress opposing opinions and ideas is the antithesis of intellectual freedom, especially when done to discourage and prevent individuals from accessing or considering those opinions and ideas," he wrote.
The issue of Jennings homosexual advocacy and the work of the group he founded has been a focal point in recent months because of his appointment in the Obama administration to head the Department of Education's Office of Safe Schools, where he sets "safety" policy for the nation's millions of public school children.
Jennings in the past has described how he adopted the use of the word "safe" to facilitate the promotion of homosexuality in schools throughout Massachusetts.
WND has reported on that issue and his influence over a conference for teachers and children that included instruction in various homosexual acts such as "fisting," multiple efforts at the congressional level to have him removed, his responsiveness when a porn publisher asked for his help in writing a book, his financial sponsorship of radical homosexual art and his membership in the sometimes-violent radical Act Up homosexual organization.
According to a report posted online by Jim Hoft at the Gateway Pundit blog after it was obtained from Breitbart.tv co-founder Scott Baker, GLSEN recommendations include "explicit descriptions of sex acts between preschoolers; stories that seemed to promote and recommend child-adult sexual relationships; stories of public masturbation, anal sex in restrooms, affairs between students and teachers, five-year-olds playing sex games, semen flying through the air."
"One memoir even praised becoming a prostitute as a way to increase one's self-esteem. Above all, the books seemed to have less to do with promoting tolerance than with an unabashed attempt to indoctrinate students into a hyper-sexualized worldview," the report said.
The team that produced the report reviewed only a handful of the more than 100 titles recommended by GLSEN for children, including "Queer 13," "Being Different," "The Full Spectrum," "Revolutionary Voices," "Reflections of a Rock Lobster," "Passages of Pride," "Growing Up Gay-Growing Up Lesbian," "The Order of the Poison Oak," "In Your Face," "Mama's Boy, Preacher's Son" and "Love & Sex: Ten Stories of Truth."
"What we discovered shocked us. We were flabbergasted. Rendered speechless," the report said.
"Read the passages ... and judge for yourself ... The language is explicit, the intent is clear," the report said.
Although many passages cannot be included in the WND report, one said: "I released his arms. They glided around my neck, pulling my head down to his. I stretched full length on top of him, our heads touching. Our heavy breathing from the struggle gradually subsided. I felt ..."
What follows in "Growing Up Gay-Growing Up Lesbian" by Malcolm Boyd is a "graphic description" of a homosexual encounter.
"It's about deciding what constitutes appropriate reading material for children. We're perfectly OK with these books existing and being read by adults; we only start to worry when these books are assigned to children," the report said.
"According to Kevin Jennings and GLSEN, books about a 13-year-old getting 'my c--- sucked and my a-- f-----' are not just acceptable, they're highly recommended," the report said.
Another excerpt from GLSEN's recommended reading list said, "Soon I was spending a great deal of time hanging out in shopping malls and cruising the rest rooms for sexual encounters."
Garnar, however, said those who object to the material on the list "strike at the core of our democracy."
"There are those who challenge the right to read and speak freely, believing that certain ideas and opinions have no place in our common discourse because they find them to be offensive, harmful, or even dangerous. They believe that certain institutions, even society itself, will be endangered if particular ideas are disseminated without restriction," he wrote. "The most recent example of this behavior can be found in the ongoing campaign against Kevin Jennings, the Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, attacking him because GLSEN, an organization he founded but with which he is no longer affiliated, publishes a list of literary works that touch on gay themes. These attacks seek to stigmatize Jennings and GLSEN for providing information for those who are interested in gay-positive books and materials for youth and adults alike."
Regina Griggs, national director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, called Garnar out on his statement immediately.
"In keeping with your statement of opposing the censorship of controversial or objectionable information, please issue a statement that the ALA does not support censorship or banning of ex-gay books," she said in an e-mail.
But there was no response from Garnar.
Contacted by WND, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the ALA's assistant director in the office for intellectual freedom, said the organization will "respond to particular censorship and challenge issues."
Garnar's statement, she said, is "specifically about the book list on the GLSEN website."
When asked if the ALA would support inclusion of ex-gay books in school libraries, she deflected the question, citing a specific incident in which a librarian reportedly was censoring ex-gay books from library shelves in West Bend, Wis.
"They had purchased two ex-gay books and added them to their collection," Caldwell-Stone said of the controversy.
Griggs agreed the books were added to the adult section, but the same library refused "to respond to our request to accept our donation for the children's book section," she noted.
"PFOX offered to donate this ex-gay children's book (Alfie's Home by Richard Cohen), so there is no issue of budget money," she said.
She said there were other instances, too.
In the Arlington County, Va., schools, for example, she said the library accepted pro-"gay" books for students, but supervisor Charlie Makela returned ex-"gay" books PFOX had donated.
"We do not believe the books are appropriate for our high school collection," she told Griggs.
"Makela is also the chair of the American Library Association's supervisors' section of the American Association of School Librarians," Griggs noted. "We filed a Virginia FOIA request and discovered that in considering our books, Makela and her library staff had referred to the ex-'gay' books as 'self-loathing,' conveying 'psychological damage' to students, and 'intolerant.'"
Those remarks, Griggs said, "bely their claim of neutrality."
WND also reported that Jennings is being "credited" with the authority of a questionnaire that begins, "What do you think caused your heterosexuality?"
Mass Resistance a pro-family group in Massachusetts, has identified Jennings as the author of the "Heterosexism questionnaire" that has appeared in schools.
In his book, "Becoming Visible," the organization notes, the following questions appear under Jennings' book byline and without any other attribution:
- What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
- When and how did you first decide you were heterosexual?
- Is it possible heterosexuality is a phase you will grow out of?
- Is it possible you are heterosexual because you fear the same sex?
- If you have never slept with someone of the same sex, how do you know you wouldn't prefer that? Is it possible you merely need a good gay experience?
- To whom have you disclosed your heterosexuality? How did they react?
- Heterosexuality isn't offensive as long as you leave others alone. Why, however, do so many heterosexuals try to seduce others into their orientation?
- Most child molesters are heterosexual. Do you consider it safe to expose your children to heterosexuals? Heterosexual teachers particularly?
- Why are heterosexuals so blatant, always making a spectacle of their heterosexuality? Why can't they just be who they are and not flaunt their sexuality by kissing in public, wearing wedding rings, etc.?
- How can you have a truly satisfying relationship with someone of the opposite sex, given the obvious physical and emotional differences?
- Heterosexual marriage has total societal support, yet over half of all heterosexuals who marry this year will divorce. Why are there so few successful heterosexual relationships?
- Given the problems heterosexuals face, would you want your children to be heterosexual? Would you consider aversion therapy to try to change them?
"They're just flipping reality on its head, denying there even is a normal," said spokeswoman Amy Contrada.
The questions, she said, have been used all over the country since the mid-1990s, with Jennings' book "Becoming Visible," which came out about that time, one of the most utilized source books for pro-homosexual curriculum.
"It's often a first exercise in 'diversity' training at schools, for both students and staff," according to a Mass Resistance report. "Jennings said the questionnaire was designed to illustrate 'unearned privilege' that accompanies heterosexuality in a heterosexist society.'"
At the Washington Times, a series of editorials addressed worries over Jennings' influence on children.
"Teaching children sexual techniques is simply not appropriate. Unfortunately, it is part of a consistent pattern by some homosexual activists to promote underage homosexuality while pretending that their mission is simply to promote tolerance for so-called alternative lifestyles," the newspaper said.
"It is outrageous that someone involved in this scandal is being paid by the taxpayers to serve in a high-powered position at the Education Department, of all places. At some point, [Education Secretary Arne] Duncan, Mr. Jennings, Obama administration spokesmen and the president himself are going to have to start answering questions about all this. Refusing to do so won't make the issue go away."
In May, WND broke the news of Jennings' federal appointment to oversee "safety" in the nation's public schools.