NEA Executive Director John Stocks urged delegates at the 2013 Convention to be “social justice patriots” who stand “with the LGBTQQ community against bigotry and for marriage equality.” He heralded “that wonderful Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act” and gave thanks to NEA general counsel Alice O’Brien and the NEA legal team for their joint submission of a brief to the Supreme Court targeting DoMA.
The board of directors and delegates brought forth and passed several “New Business Items” that directly relate to sexual identity issues. Even topics not expressly or uniquely about LGBTQQ (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, and questioning) issues were presented as such at the convention and in union literature. Bullying, the number of psychological counselors at schools, and suicide prevention were all discussed under the umbrella of helping LGBTQQ teachers and students.
Delegates passed a New Business Item (NBI) submitted by the NEA Board of Directors that states: “The NEA shall encourage the Obama administration to ensure all legally married people have equal access to federal benefits regardless of their state of residence.” An impassioned plea in favor of this was given by a delegate who fervently wishes to have benefits such as his health care coverage and his pension cover his “husband” in the state where they reside, which has not approved gay marriage. If the Obama administration acted on this, it would amount to de facto institution of gay marriage in every state.
A speaker who encouraged fellow delegates to vote against this item told the assembly that the union’s strong focus on alternative sexual lifestyles is troubling to NEA members in his state, and contributes to the decline in union membership.
Along with the NBI, the convention also passed Legislative Amendment 16, stating that the NEA supports “ensuring all legally married people have equal access to federal benefits regardless of their state of residence.” Legislative Amendments become the agenda the union pushes when lobbying the U.S. Congress.
Educating Students the LGBTQQ Way
The NEA continues to move the gay agenda full speed ahead in public schools. Two new business items adopted by NEA delegates aim to ensure that students are taught about LGBTQQ people. Some delegates objected to the suggested curriculum, which is in conjunction with The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Those delegates claim the organization is extreme and the curriculum is inappropriate for students. The items that were adopted are:
NBI 21. NEA will use existing resources, assist state affiliates in urging policy makers on the district and state level to push for legislation similar to California’s FAIR Education Act (Senate Bill 48) that requires schools to integrate factual information about social movements, current events, and history of LGBTQ people and people with disabilities into existing social studies lessons along with all historically underrepresented groups.
NBI 30. NEA will encourage all states and NEA Affiliates to use existing means of communication to promote developmentally appropriate instructional resources in order to help all educators integrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) history, people, and issues into their instruction. . . .
Another NBI calling for more school counselors and social workers was adopted in part to help students who question their sexual identity or are facing problems because they are not heterosexual. During the “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Committee” hearing, the consensus was that it was outrageous for school counselors or social workers to inform parents when told by a student that the student has chosen an alternative sexual lifestyle.
An African-American delegate took the floor of the convention to express anger that the struggle for racial equality was repeatedly presented by the NEA as closely related to the LGBTQQ quest for equal marital and other rights. He said that the struggle for racial equality was not at all the same thing and urged the NEA to stop making the comparison.