In 1949, George Orwell wrote in Nineteen Eight-Four the following profound statement: And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. ‘Reality control’, they called it: in Newspeak, ‘doublethink’.
Last week I was doing some research on Obama’s appointees. I used Wikipedia to gather information regarding about Kevin Jennings, the former Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education. It appeared sparse and lacked the controversial information I knew about Jennings, so as a Wikipedia contributor, I added it… complete with references. Ten minutes later it was revised to the original version. What gives?
Now Wikipedia is a pretty open-source website, so there are no final judges or arbiters for issues that arise like this, rather they have editors who make these judgment calls. Who are the Wikipedia editors? They can literally be anybody. So, rather than going back and forth changing the article every five minutes, I appealed to the Wikipedia Noticeboards in the hopes that I could curry the favor of an editor.
On the Noticeboard I complained that the existing article was in violation of the Neutral Point of View policy (NPOV) because it was not explaining the full extent of the controversies associated with Kevin Jennings and why there was so much pressure for him to resign. That notice was deleted shortly thereafter and I received the following email:
Welcome to Wikipedia. Please be aware of Wikipedia’s policy that biographical information about living persons must not include unsupported or inaccurate statements. Whenever you add possibly controversial statements about a living person to an article or any other Wikipedia page, as you did to Kevin Jennings, you must include proper sources. If you don’t know how to cite a source, you may want to read Wikipedia: Referencing for beginners for guidelines. Thank you. KillerChihuahua ?!? Advice 01:16, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
So, those people in authority — specifically KillerChihuahua – at Wikipedia have literally whitewashed Kevin Jennings biography, removing anything that is controversial… that led to his resignation. They are literally revising history.
So, I thought I would post the real “unrevised” Wikipedia article… and let everyone else decide. Am I in violation of including “unsupported or inaccurate statements” or is Wikipedia in violation of their own Neutral Point of View policy?
Doublethink? You be the judge:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|May 8, 1963 (age 48)|
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Teachers College, Columbia University
Stern School of Business, New York University
|Teacher, author, human rights activist, administrator|
|National Education Association (NEA)‘s Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights.|
Kevin Brett Jennings (born May 8, 1963) is an American educator, author, and administrator. He was the Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education from 2009-11. As of July 2011 Jennings will be the president and CEO of nonprofit organization Be The Change.
Jennings holds degrees from Harvard University, Columbia University’s Teachers College, and the Stern School of Business at New York University. He became a teacher and was named one of fifty “Terrific Teachers Making a Difference” by the Edward Calesa Foundation, he also came out as gay to his students. In 1990 he founded the Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teachers Education Network (later changed to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), which became a leading group seeking to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In 1992 he was named co-chair of the Education Committee of the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth in Massachusetts. Jennings has authored six books on gay rights and education, including one which won the Lambda Literary Award.
Early life and teaching career
Jennings was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was the youngest of five children to Chester Henry, an itinerant Southern Baptist preacher, and Alice Verna (Johnson) Jennings. His family was poor and constantly moved around the South as his father sought a permanent post. His father died when Kevin was eight and the family was living in a Lewisville, North Carolina trailer park. From then on he grew up in a rural atmosphere that was intolerant of African Americans and gay people; several of his cousins and uncles were in the Ku Klux Klan. He was constantly taunted and bullied. “The first day of 10th grade I actually refused to go back to school because I simply wasn’t going to go back to a place where I was bullied every day.” He attended Paisley Magnet School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where he did well academically, but was beaten by classmates for what they saw as effeminate behavior and attempted suicide after realizing he was gay. After he and his mother moved to Hawaii he graduated from Radford High School in Honolulu.
Jennings then attended and received a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in history from Harvard University, where he delivered the Harvard Oration at the 1985 commencement. He became a high school history teacher, first at Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island, from 1985 to 1987, and then at Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts, from 1987 to 1995, where he was chair of the history department. In 1992 the Edward Calesa Foundation named Jennings one of fifty “Terrific Teachers Making a Difference”. Most of his students accepted him when he revealed his sexual identity after years of keeping it secret.
GLSEN and writing
While at the Concord Academy in 1988, Jennings started the nations’ first gay-straight alliance together with a female student. Jennings then co-founded the Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teacher Network (GLISTeN) in Boston in 1990, to address the problems facing GLBT students. It held its first conference the following year, when it changed its name to the Gay and Lesbian School Teachers Network (GLSTN). The organization started out as a small local one but gained a strong supportive reaction. In 1992, Jennings was appointed by Governor William Weld to co-chair the Education Committee of the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. He was the principal author of, “Making Schools Safe for Gay & Lesbian Youth”, a commission report. The Massachusetts State Board of Education adopted the report as policy in May 1993 and the state became the first in the U.S. to outlaw discrimination of public school students on the basis of sexual orientation in December 1993.
In 1993, Jennings was named a Joseph Klingenstein Fellow at Columbia University’s Teachers College, from which he received his master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in education in 1994. In 1994 he wrote Becoming Visible: A Reader in Gay & Lesbian History for High School and College Students, the “first book of its kind” for a high school audience. Jennings moved GLSTN to New York to accompany his studying, and decided to make the organization national in scope. In doing so, he also changed its name to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), to give it a broader focus. The organization seeks to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In both 1995 and 1996 Jennings was in Out magazine’s list of “Top 100 Newsmakers and Earthshakers”.
In 1997, Newsweek magazine named Jennings to its “Century Club” of people likely to make a difference in the 21st century. Jennings earned an M.B.A. from New York University‘s Stern School of Business in 1999. By that year, GLSEN was headquartered in the Chelsea, Manhattan neighborhood of New York City and had a staff of 18 and budget of $2.5 million.
In 1998 he won the Lambda Literary Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category for his book Telling Tales Out of School. He has published six books on gay rights and education. His works have described his own past as a closeted gay student.
In July 2004, Jennings received the National Education Association (NEA)‘s Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights. NEA Republican Educators Caucus chairwoman Diane Lenning protested the award because—by her reading of a story in Jennings’ book One Teacher in 10—she thought he broke Massachusetts law in 1988 by not reporting a sixteen-year-old gay high school student’s relationship with an older man. Three days later, the caucus ousted Lenning as chairwoman over her stance against gays, and later that month The Washington Times published a letter from Jennings saying the accusations were hurtful, inaccurate and potentially libelous. CNN subsequently confirmed that the student was above the age of consent in Massachusetts and not sexually active. The incident resurfaced in 2009 as part of a social conservatives’ campaign against Jennings’ appointment to head the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.
Jennings is a lifelong, avid ice hockey fan, who has played in the New York City Gay Hockey Association. In 2005, he suffered a near-fatal heart attack after a game, but he recovered and returned to the ice in 2007. In 2008, Jennings spoke out against the practice of homophobic chants from fans at New York Rangers home games, and stopped his practice of regularly attending their games for about a month. Jennings and the director of the Gay Hockey Association met with officials of the Rangers and Madison Square Garden but failed to get much action from them.
Jennings stepped down as head of GLSEN as of August 2008. By then, GLSEN had two regional offices and a staff of 40, and there were gay-straight alliances in over 3,700 schools registered to GLSEN.
Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools
On May 19, 2009, Obama administration Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced Jennings’ appointment as an Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, starting July 6, 2009 as the third director of the office, which was established in 2002 during the George W. Bush administration pursuant to the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
As Assistant Deputy Secretary, Jennings has focused on matters relating to teacher safety, classroom discipline and bullying. His office has awarded safety grants worth millions of dollars. In August 2010 his office hosted the first-ever National Bullying Summit which he helped organize. In September 2010 Jennings became one of the notable members of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (NAASP), a public-private partnership designed to advance and update the 2001 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and an outgrowth of the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. The NAASP will initially focus on three high-risk populations; LGBT Youth, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Military/Veterans.
Controversies and Resignation
In 2000 Kevin Jennings was the keynote speaker at the GLSEN/Boston Conference at Tufts University where “youth only, ages 14-21″ learned in a workshop at the conference about fisting and watersports from the GLSEN activists. GLSEN leaders eventually apologized. 
In 2001, Jennings’ GLSEN activists handed out “fisting kits” to the children and teachers who attended the Jennings’ GLSEN conference. 
In 2005, hundreds of middle school age and up children at Brookline High School in Brookline, Massachusetts attended Kevin Jennnings’ GLSEN 2005 Conference. Activists at the conference passed out the “Little Black Book – Queer in the 21st Century,” a book that exposes children to Rimming, Fisting, Water Sports and Sex Toys. 
In Jenning’s book One teacher in 10, he tells about a young male sophomore, “Brewster,” who confessed to Jennings “his involvement with an older man he met in Boston;” however, at a GLSEN rally, Jennings told a more explicit version of “Brewster’s” story. Jennings quotes the boy and then comments: “‘I met someone in the bus station bathroom and I went home with him.’ High school sophomore, fifteen years old. That was the only way he knew how to meet gay people.” Rather than reporting the statutory rape and sexual abuse, as many states mandate teachers do, Jennings told the boy to “use a condom.” 
Social conservatives campaigned against Jennings’ appointment because he allegedly condoned child molestation based on the 2004 incident over a teen’s story he related in his book One teacher in 10 : LGBT educators share their stories. Jennings denied the allegations stating that no sex occurred and that he only advised the child to use a condom. 53 Republican members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to the Obama administration that called for Jennings’ dismissal. Education Secretary Duncan, the White House, the NEA, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals have supported Jennings’ appointment, with Duncan saying Jennings was “uniquely qualified for his job.”
On May 19, 2011, the Boston-based nonprofit organization Be the Change, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced that Jennings would be resigning his position with the Obama administration and on July 25 he would become President and Chief Executive Officer of the organization.
- Jennings, Kevin (editor) (1994). Becoming visible : a reader in gay & lesbian history for high school & college students. Boston: Alyson Publications. ISBN 1555832547.
- Jennings, Kevin (editor) (1994). One teacher in 10 : gay and lesbian educators tell their stories (1st ed.). Boston: Alyson Publications. ISBN 1555832636.
- Jennings, Kevin (editor) (1998). Telling tales out of school : gays, lesbians, and bisexuals revisit their school days. Los Angeles: Alyson Books. ISBN 1555834183.
- Jennings, Kevin; Shapiro, Patricia Gottlieb (2003). Always my child : a parent’s guide to understanding your gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning son or daughter. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0743226496.
- Jennings, Kevin (editor) (2005). One teacher in 10 : LGBT educators share their stories (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Alyson Books. ISBN 1555838693.
- Jennings, Kevin (2006). Mama’s boy, preacher’s son : a memoir. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 0807071463.
- ^ a b c d e f Merrow Report (2004). “Teaching Tolerance: Gay and Lesbian Students”. National Public Radio.
- ^ a b “Be the Change Announces New President and CEO”. May 19, 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- ^ a b c d e f g h Archibold, Randal C. (October 27, 1999). “Public lives: A gay crusader sees history on his side”. The New York Times: p. B2.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Shannon, Victoria (September 29, 2009). “Jennings, Kevin”. glbtq.com.
- ^ a b SPECIAL REPORT: Growing Up Gay, WJBF-TV News, November 15, 2010.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i U.S. Department of Education (July 31, 2009). “Kevin Jennings, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools—Biography”. U.S. Department of Education.
- ^ a b U.S. Department of Education (May 19, 2009). “Education Secretary announces nine senior staff appointments”. U.S. Department of Education.
CETAC (May 27, 2009). “U.S. Department of Education announces nine senior staff appointments including Kevin Jennings for OSDFS”. Character Education and Civic Engagement Technical Assistance Center.
- ^ a b c . (January 18, 2008). “GLSEN founder stepping down”. The Advocate.
- ^ “The century club”. Newsweek. April 21, 1997.
- ^ NEA Human and Civil Rights Awards (2009). “Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights”. National Education Association.
- ^ Archibald, George (July 3, 2004). “NEA groups protest award to gay studies activist”. The Washington Times: p. A04.
- ^ Archibald, George (July 6, 2004). “NEA Republicans alter rules to oust their leader; Caucus liberals upset about her stance against homosexuals”. The Washington Times: p. A04.
- ^ Jennings, Kevin (July 30, 2004). “Letter: A gentle ear and a helping hand”. The Washington Times: p. A04.
- ^ a b c Yellin, Jessica (October 2, 2009). “Ex-pupil defends Obama aide over controversial advice in 1988″. CNN.
- ^ a b Woog, Dan (June 27, 2008). “The OutField: Ranging onto unfriendly ice”. Seattle Gay News.
- ^ a b . (2009). “Profile for Kevin Jennings”. New York City Gay Hockey Association.
- ^ Thomas, Katie (March 21, 2008). “When tradition and taunts collide: Gay hockey fans criticize Garden”. The New York Times: p. D1.
- ^ . (April 18, 2008). “Rangers answer concerns of gays”. The New York Times: p. D6.
- ^ U.S. Department of Education (September 29, 2009). “A note from OSDFS Assistant Deputy Secretary Kevin Jennings regarding the OSDFS national conference”. U.S. Department of Education.
- ^ U.S. Department of Education (September 17, 2002). “Paige announces formation of two new offices”. U.S. Department of Education.
- ^ a b Yellin, Jessica (October 1, 2009). “Education official becomes the latest target for Obama critics”. CNN.
- ^ Dana Rudolph, Fed to schools: Law requires actions against bullying, San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, October 26, 2010.
- ^ Sally Holland, School bullying takes center stage at summit in Washington, CNN, August 11, 2010.
- ^ Dana Rudolph, HHS awards up to $22.4 million for suicide prevention, Keen News Service, November 11, 2010.
- ^ Three High-Risk Populations Targeted for National Suicide Prevention Efforts: Task Forces Focus on LGBT Youth, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Military/Veterans, OutWord Magazine, December 30, 2010.
- ^ Radical Safe Schools Czar Hits the Skids, Big Government, June 21, 2011.
- ^ Anal Fisting Kits Given To Public School Students in Massachusetts by Obama Department of Education Appointee, Charlotte Observer, June 03, 2011.
- ^ Little Black Book – Queer in the 21st Century, Mass Resistance, April 30, 2005.
- ^ Tony Perkins, Kevin Jennings — Unsafe for America’s Schools, Human Events, June 29, 2009.
- ^ Chris Good, Kevin Jennings: The Latest Embattled Appointee, The Atlantic, October 9, 2009.
- ^ a b Kirkpatrick, David D. (October 15, 2009). “53 Republicans Seek Ouster of Obama Schools Official”. The New York Times: p. A19.
- ^ Van Roekel, Dennis (October 2, 2009). “NEA responds to attacks on Department of Education official”. National Education Association.
- ^ Tirozzi, Gerald N. (October 2, 2009). “NASSP voices support for new safe-schools head”. National Association of Secondary School Principals.
- Official site
- United States Department of Education: Kevin Jennings, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools—Biography (bio)
- Huffington Post: Kevin Jennings (bio and his blog)