Kevin Jennings is leaving the Department of Education to work for a nonprofit:
The Be the Change nonprofit announced today that Kevin Jennings, currently serving in the Obama administration's Education Department as the assistant deputy secretary and the head of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, will be leaving that role this summer to become the new president and CEO of Be the Change.
Kevin Jennings, the founder of GLSEN and the current "Safe Schools Czar," came under fire in 2009 from Sean Hannity, the Washington Times, the AFA, and others on the right because he was a gay man working in the Education Department in a prominent position. The attacks on him ranged from one time he said he liked Harry Hay to a story he told where an of-age student of his told him he had sex and Jennings didn't immediately call the police to questioning his belief in God.
They weren't able to find anything of substance, which is why the accusations never got off the ground, but they were playing to their base, as Michelle Goldberg said at the time:
The illogic didn't really matter, though, because the right's escalating war on Jennings is all about appealing to primal emotion. Jennings, the assistant deputy secretary of Education in charge of the Office of Safe & Drug-Free Schools, is the target of one of the ugliest homophobic witch-hunts we've seen in a while. It plays directly into classic right-wing narratives of predatory gay recruitment. "Children don't need to be learning about homosexual practices in elementary school," says Princeton Professor Robert George, in a video on the anti-Jennings Web site preserveinnocence.org. On Monday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) sent a letter to Obama calling on him to fire Jennings. "Mr. Jennings' life's work has been the promotion of homosexuality, much of it in our elementary schools," he wrote.
While the non-story was eventually forgotten, it fed into the weird "czar" conspiracy theories from the right and eventually made an appearance in the Iowa GOP platform.
Now with Kevin Jennings voluntarily leaving, the Democrats have won this round just by waiting it out. And that's the only way to work against the rightwing noise machine: ignore it and keep on doing the right thing.
img from Be the Change's website