Friday, December 11, 2009

Kevin Jennings' Own Lesson Plan on Harry Hay: Doing It in the Bushes as "Civil Right"

I know, I know... I've just posted so much original info on Kevin Jennings it's hard for you all to keep up! So... I wanted you to look again at KJ's very own high school LESSON PLAN presenting anonymous anal sex in the bushes as a "civil right" to fight for... See my October 19 post: 

Kevin Jennings, Harry Hay, and Pornography


... So when we examine Jennings’ gay and lesbian history teaching aids for high school and college classes [Becoming VisibleOne Teacher in Ten, and Telling Tales Out of School], we shouldn’t be surprised that he focuses those young minds (as early as 13 years old!) on Harry Hay’s campaign against “police brutality” and “oppression” of homosexuals in “entrapments.” (See Becoming Visible, Chapter 11, “Harry Hay and the Beginnings of the Homophile Movement.”).  A 1952 California “entrapment” case (where coincidentally the accused was named Jennings) became a focus for the new gay activist movement, and is held out to children (along with the Stonewall riots) as a heroic moment in American history. Having anonymous sodomy in restrooms is a “right” to be fought for, according to Hay – and Jennings -- and any attempt by society to enforce traditional norms is called “oppression”....

In his introduction to the unit on Hay, Jennings generates sympathy with the young readers, excusing Hay’s “idealist” membership in the Communist Party as “driven by a desire to better things for disadvantaged Americans.” Gays were victims, and Hay’s genius was to see an opportunity for a political movement fighting for his “oppressed minority”. “Growing oppression often creates growing resistance,” wrote Jennings.
Jennings’ student discussion topics on Hay include the police “entrapment” of a gay man involved in "cruising" for sex -- gay men engaging in anonymous sodomy in public bathrooms or public parks.  Students are told that such arrests amount to “financial and emotional lynching” of gays. Imagine what this topic would actually mean in a classroom discussion with children as young as 13.

When Jennings taught in Concord Academy (just prior to his editing this book), “no stories were forbidden.” His organization GLSEN held Boston conferences where children discussed fisting and tribadism (“Fistgate” in 2000) and handed out the pornographic Little Black Book (2005) to minor children. His Seattle GLSEN chapter linked children directly with pornography on their web site. So Jennings' pattern of leading children to age-inappropriate, hard-core sexual subject matter is clear.

What were Jennings’ suggested discussions for high school students in his chapter on Harry Hay? Here are the terms they needed to know, and some of the suggested topics (pp. 178-180): 
·       Harry Hay
·       Daughters of Bilitis 
·       Mattachine Society
·       Kinsey Report
·       Police entrapment 
·       1. Recreate the scene in the apartment the night Harry Hay first gets the idea for a gay-rights organization. This can be done by: writing a “sales pitch” that Hay delivers to prospective members; role-playing the parts of Hay and the partygoers; or writing diary entries from the point of view of Hay and others, as if you have just gotten home from the party. 
·       5. Hay’s most important contribution in the eyes of many was his notion that gays were a “cultural minority.” What does this mean? Why would it be important? (You may want to look at the life of Ulrichs in Chapter 7 for a comparison.) 
·       9. The key argument Hay came up with in the groundbreaking [Dale] Jennings [entrapment] case was that Jennings had been homosexual but not “lewd or dissolute.” What made this a dramatic new argument at the time?
·       12. Every minority group has debated the “assimilation or resistance” question. Put yourself in the late 1950s and imagine you are a member of Mattachine or DOB [Daughters of Bilitis]. Justify your group’s political strategies. Others can represent a more “resistance” point of view. [Act Up for example?] After a debate, vote on which argument would be more convincing, given the conditions in the United States for gays of that period.

Note the technique of drawing the student -- whether “gay” or straight -- into a gay or lesbian identity in these exercises. And clearly, students are forced to engage in vivid thinking and discussion about gay sex practices. What, after all, was the accused doing when the policeman arrested him? Further, extremist political activism is held up as worthy of emulation, and students are directed to think along those lines.

Jennings never really answers his own question (in his Introduction to Becoming Visible), “Why teach gay history?” He does say, “it is intellectually dishonest not to do so” (whatever that means), and it will “help our students create a better society.” He equates gay history with African-American history and women’s history, totally ignoring the fact that homosexuality is not an innate characteristic (as are race and sex), and that the subject deals with the morally sensitive issue of sexual behavior. 

Perhaps the honest answer to his question was that Jennings was “filled with rage.” From his introduction:

“I thought back over my twelve years in North Carolina public schools and my four years at Harvard University, sixteen years when I never once learned anything in a classroom about gay people or gay history, and I was filled with rage. Denying me that history had nearly cost me my life, for gay invisibility had helped create the feelings of isolation that had made me want to end it all.”

Jennings refers to himself as an “historian” (in his introduction). It appears he’s more of a propagandisfor a sorry cause: the moral perversion of youth, and the spreading of a myth that our “heterosexist” culture is to blame for all the psychological, emotional and physical sufferings of gays and lesbians.