It gets worse; a lot worse. It's comparable in scope to the Climate Warming fraud now unraveling. I recommend it only for those who still need to be convinced that there is something deeply, deeply troubling about the president's hand-picked inner circle. If you doubt that, I suggest you take a look: here.
Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings was the founder, and for many years, Executive Director of an organization called the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). GLSEN started essentially as Jennings’ personal project and grew to become the culmination of his life’s work. And he was chosen by President Obama to be the nation’s Safe Schools Czar primarily because he had founded and led GLSEN (scroll for bio).
GLSEN’s stated mission is to empower gay youth in the schools and to stop harassment by other students. It encourages the formation of Gay Student Alliances and condemns the use of hateful words. GLSEN also strives to influence the educational curriculum to include materials which the group believes will increase tolerance of gay students and decrease bullying. To that end, GLSEN maintains a recommended reading list of books that it claims “furthers our mission to ensure safe schools for all students.” In other words, these are the books that GLSEN’s directors think all kids should be reading: gay kids should read them to raise their self-esteem, and straight kids should read them in order to become more aware and tolerant and stop bullying gay kids. Through GLSEN’s online ordering system, called “GLSEN BookLink,” featured prominently on their Web site, teachers can buy the books to use as required classroom assignments, or students can buy them to read on their own.
After reading it, you may be in the mood to sign the Manhattan Declaration, if you haven't already. It's here.
You wrote at the tale end of your misguided, scandal hungry, scapegoating ritual directed at Kevin Jennings this little apparently unrelated blurb, "It gets worse; a lot worse. It's comparable in scope to the Climate Warming fraud now unraveling."
Really? What fraud? Where? In view of the fact that Global Warming and the science that supports it is unaffected by the "fraud" exposed by those emails, it might be advantageous to actually investigate not only the claims made in them, but the very firm and substantial rebuttal to them offered by the rest of the scientific community. You might start with this offering from your own church:
"God, the Creator of all that exists, has appointed human person the steward and caretaker of God’s own creation. In his Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus Pope John Paul II wrote: “Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given to him, but man too is God’s gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed.” Since the tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean on 26 December 2004 there have been other natural disasters in different parts of the world. Hurricanes, earthquakes, typhoons and droughts are attributed to global warming, a phenomenon, due not just to natural causes, but also to human behaviours. In that sense human beings are responsible for global warming and their continued disregard for the environment will prove ever more fatal for human existence, unless the causes are addressed. Human beings are part of a larger whole. They should not manipulate, distort and abuse God’s creation. Rather they are called to be responsible stewards, able and willing to restrain their own desires for the good of all in God’s creation." - From the memorial speech of H. Em. Cardinal Paul Poupard, read on his behalf by Fr. Felix Machado on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the religious summit at Mount Hiei.
And thanks anyway, I still wont sign the Manhattan Declaration.
Following the links provided there is one misunderstanding. GSA is not "Gay Student Alliance" rather it is "Gay Straight Alliance."
Thanks for putting the GLSEN stuff out there so that we may look for ourselves. I'll look through it.
I'm with Dean though, why are you so fixated on the Climate Change situation? Specifically why are you so convinced in the absence of real data that it is a fraud? This continued misunderstanding and rejection of science harms your credibility.
Finally I'll never sign the Manhattan Declaration. I simply cannot support all of it. Break it into three things and you might get more takers on the individual items.
Please Gil give serious consideration to not pushing the Global Climate Change denialist propaganda. It really is not germane to what you are trying to do here.
Take care Gil.
Ad Astra Per Aspera,
Here is the caveat emptor on the GLSEN book recommendations. Frankly they put the burden on the teachers and other adults to determine what is appropriate for the audience. Seems reasonable to me.
"All BookLink items are reviewed by GLSEN staff for quality and appropriateness of content. However, some titles for adolescent readers contain mature themes. We recommend that adults selecting books for youth review content for suitability. The editorial and customer reviews listed at Amazon.com often provide information on mature content."
Gil is "scandal hungry"? Dean, did you even read any of the excerpts from the GLSEN reading list? Are you in favor of young children being exposed to gay porn (or any porn) in order to foster their "self-esteem"? Don't you even find that troubling? I don't ask this in a spirit of anger--I just spent Thanksgiving with my gay cousin, and I haven't signed the declaration either because I don't like the coupling of abortion and gay issues in the same declaration. But still--how can we not be troubled by Jennings' former vocation? Has he repented of that organization's work?
Gil, you seem to regard the sexually-explicit content of books listed in the GLSEN BookLink as a lynchpin for bringing down not only GLSEN, but the Obama Administration, same-sex marriage, and AGW action. Is there anything else you’d like to throw in there? Maybe you’d like to link these books to the pro-choice movement as well? Or to immigration and Islamic Fundamentalism?
Although I have followed your blog site for years, I don’t recall the position you took on the priest sex abuse scandals, but I am sure you didn’t call for the dismantling of the priesthood or the dissolution of the Church, let alone an end to strip-mining and Sunday poker games.
GLSEN has sexually-explicit books on its reading list and so we should sign the Manhattan Declaration, which takes a position against same-sex marriage but does not mention GLSEN?
GLSEN has sexually-explicit books on its reading list and so we should vote for Sarah Palin in 2012?
GLSEN has sexually-explicit books on its reading list and so we should end school programs that address bullying of children who are perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered?
You say this is “comparable in scope to the Climate Warming fraud now unraveling.” But climate change research is not unraveling. There is no fraud. And even if there were, there would be a huge disparity of scale, or “scope,” as you put it. So why mention Climate Warming? Answer: Never pass up any opportunity for linkage, however improbable.
And finally, many of the books listed on GLSEN’s BookLink are indeed sexually explicit, but so are most books that aim to educate young people about sex. Parents and teachers must exercise sensitivity and caution in using such resources. That they sometimes use them inappropriately does not mean that those resources should be withdrawn. Nevertheless, there are plenty of valid reasons for striking a book off the “recommended” list, and these would include positive modeling (promotion) of dangerous and irresponsible sexual behaviors.
I support GLSEN’s mission statement because I believe gay teenagers need empowerment through identification with others like themselves (e.g., through books), that they need accurate information about safe and responsible sex, and that anti-bullying programs are badly needed to ensure safe learning environments for everyone. Let’s not forget that “straight” kids who are perceived to be gay are often bullied as well. The 2007 National School Climate Survey surveyed 6209 middle-school and high-school students and found that 86% of the GLBT students reported incidents of harassment. I know that these things happen. I was once a teenager myself.
Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you find that a particular book on GLSEN’s list is totally inappropriate, then let them know about it. I’m sure they would be happy to hear from you. But to conclude that there is something “deeply troubling” about sex education and anti-bullying programs is a bit extreme. To conclude that same-sex marriage is wrong is even more extreme. And to link all of this to global warming is beyond extreme.
If you have a position against same-sex marriage (SSM) or AGW, maybe it would be best to clarify it separately. We don’t need to oppose SSM or deny AGW in order to stop the listing of a book on GLSEN’s BookLink.
Gil, while investigating GLSEN’s Web site, I ran across a link to a 2004 article in Momentum, a Catholic publication. The article, published in two parts, is by a Catholic priest (Robert Mattingly, SJ), and its title is, “Gay adolescents in Catholic Schools: Avoiding the Topic Won’t Make It Go Away.”
Mattingly writes the following:
The litany of risks for gay teens is overwhelming. The suicide rate is five times higher for gay adolescents; gay suicide attempts are much more lethal; 40 percent of homeless teens are gay; gay teens are three times as likely to engage in substance abuse; and 60 percent of new HIV cases occur among 15-to-24-year-olds. Many gay adolescents feel completely isolated and alone. One described the situation as "living in a box." Self-destructive behaviors are not intrinsic to being homosexual, but they flow from the external negative reaction to it, which then becomes internalized.
To the extent that isolation and hateful messages decrease, there is movement from self-destruction to self-integration. The failure of a school to help its homosexual students feel loved and included is not simply doing nothing. Rather, a lack of action contributes to isolation, which leads to further self-deprecation.
I don’t agree with all the author’s recommendations for addressing the problem (later in the article) because he accepts without question the Church’s stance that homosexuality is disordered. This stance is unsupported by mainstream scientific research and only worsens the problems faced by gay teens, in my view. Nevertheless, Mattingly’s article is a hopeful sign that religiously-affiliated schools, even Catholic ones, have begun to understand the extent of the problem and to take responsibility for addressing it.
IMO, any who aren't concerned and/or upset by these findings regarding the “Safe School Czar” of the Last Self-Help Administration, suffer from boiled frog syndrome. Or internet trolls.
As the gay son of a Southern baptist preacher, Mr. Jennings had, in his own words, a “childhood of prejudice, taunts, and harassment.” As an education leader, he has used those experiences to promote tolerance and anti-bullying measures in schools nationwide. His concern and activism on behalf of the young is generated in part by the high suicide rate among young homosexuals who feel frightened, dispossessed and marginalized, "trapped" in what they are falsely told is a "lifestyle", and who think of themselves in very isolated terms as a result. But his concern reaches beyond the LGBT community. His real goal is to create a normative environment where everyone is accepted without prejudice. This is what motivated Jennings to get involved in education. Having a program that first and foremost reveals to gays that they are not alone...that their feelings of confusion and insecurity are not uncommon, and that there is linkage with a wider community who have not only adjusted to their feelings but learned to accept them and live with them, is his primary aim. Sexual education is a big part of that goal.
I do indeed have strong reservations about the material that was sited, but I would be very surprised to discover it was representative of the whole. I sympathize with your concerns. But I have an equally strong conviction that local school districts are in control of the content of their curriculums, and that all of these books can be assessed on their own merits through peer review, and either rejected or accepted based on careful consideration. The general public is plugged into that process through their local P.T.A.'s and school conferences. No local school board is being asked to give up their autonomy in regards to teaching materials, especially as it impacts very young children.
One more thing. We live in the age of the internet. Like it or not, teenagers and children of all ages know how to find any kind of sexual content they want at the touch of a button, parental controls notwithstanding. With iPhones, Blackberries, Kindle tablets, laptops, internet cafes, Twitter, Facebook, and wifi, our kids are hardwired into the new technology from top to bottom and there's no turning back. In fact, A recent study at the University of Montreal, Canada planned to compare men who watched hardcore movies with those who didn't, except for one little problem. According to professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse, his team couldn't find a single man who hadn't been exposed to it. "We started our research seeking men in their twenties who had never consumed pornography," he said, "but we couldn't find any." That's the ubiquity and the reality of sex. Young people like it, want it and actively pursue it. Just like we did back when stapled navels and air brushed pubic hair were the only recourse available to horny teens.
The books in question may end up being redundant, in view of what kids are already exposed to by virtue of their own computer skills.
Gil, Dean’s most recent comment and my own quotation from Robert Mattingly, SJ, offer a glimpse into the lives of gay teens who face prejudice, taunts, and bullying at school—and often moral condemnation in their families and churches. The rates of depression, suicide, homelessness, and substance abuse among these youth are truly scandalous and heart-breaking. We should all have to stop what we are doing for a few days and listen to some of the stories, but unfortunately most of them will be ignored and forgotten.
Last month, you posted a short video that encouraged Christians to be more loving toward gays and lesbians (“A Nice Reminder,” 11/13/09). I remarked that the video contained no call for action—action to end discrimination and stigmatization and to support programs that address the bullying problems faced by gay youth in the schools. I felt that the sentiments expressed in the video were nothing more than empty piety.
Later in the month you posted a video about the UN Human Rights Council’s selective condemnation of human rights violations (“What has become of UN Human Rights?” 11/29/09). I pointed to egregious human rights violations now occurring in the African nation of Uganda and asked for your support in condemning them. Under current law, homosexuality in Uganda is punishable by life imprisonment, and they are now considering legislation that would impose the death penalty for homosexuality in some circumstances and would also require a seven-year prison term for anyone—even a foreigner residing in Uganda—who publicly defends a gay or lesbian person.
As I said, I asked for your support in condemning these violations. There was no response from you.
Recently, evangelical mega-church pastor Rick Warren was asked whether he supported or opposed this legislation. (Warren has been a powerful figure in distributing AIDS funding in Uganda and is a longtime ally of Martin Ssempe, who authored the bill.) His response, in a Meet the Press interview was, “I never take sides.” This is, of course, a lie. But more important, it is classic avoidance of the same sort that motivated the Catholic Church’s neutrality in Rwanda and Nazi Germany.
Uganda has a huge Catholic population—40% of about 32 million people—and the Church has so far been silent on this issue. Why? It would seem like a no-brainer, wouldn’t it? The human rights violations are plain to see, and both the death penalty and the brutal and unjust treatment of homosexuals are against Catholic teaching. (The Catechism states that homosexual persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”)
Because Uganda’s Catholics now have such a high profile, their silence—and that of the Church—will be become increasingly unsustainable.
So, on these two topics—school bullying of GLBT youth and criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda—what position are you taking? In the case of school bullying, do you have any proposals or support any existing programs that address this problem? And can you join me in calling for an end to human rights violations in Uganda?
May I direct you to one of the logical ends of all of this obsession with homosexuals and treating them as civilization destroying people.
You speak of cowardice in other places. What is this? I'm ashamed that Obama had Rick Warren pray at the inauguration. I was appalled before now I see he was pandering to a dangerous set of people.
Please stop pushing homosexuality and homosexual rights as somehow the end of our civilization. It is not. But it could lead to support for more and more initiatives like this one in Uganda.
Ad Astra Per Aspera,
"Gil, you seem to regard the sexually-explicit content of books listed in the GLSEN BookLink as a lynchpin for bringing down not only GLSEN, but the Obama Administration, same-sex marriage, and AGW action."
The thread linking all of these issues was clear to me from the start, minus the global warming issue. This administration appointed someone well versed in creating and promoting propaganda that will impact future legislation regarding same-sex "marriage." Eventually, anyone questioning the morality of same-sex relationships will be regarded as ignorant bigots and hate-driven. (This is about when I started to see the connection with global warming.) This has been going on for a while, but never has the propaganda been so blatantly aimed at children.
If we go back and read the responses to Gil's posts regarding global warming and homosexuality the connection between them becomes more obvious. Both issues are closed for debate. Unless you agree that global warming is the most serious problem of our time and that there is nothing morally wrong with homosexuality, you are not worthy of hearing. The anger, and condescending tone in which the responses are made are telling.
If only people were as concerned about the seperation of science and state as they are about church and state. Or, for that matter, the seperation of media and state.
That's it! I'm calling the ACLU.
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