Do Facts Really Matter?
The 2017 NEA Representative Assembly Caucus Report
The 2017 NEA Convention was held in Boston, MA, June 30- July 5. This year’s guests at our caucus booth were amazing: Walt Heyer, former transgender, and his wife, Kaycee; and David Pickup, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Walt Heyer was born a male and at age 42, with the advice of a physician, went through the entire procedure to have sex- reassignment surgery to transition to a woman. As a young child, his grandmother had dressed him up as a girl, and at an early age he was molested by an uncle. Following his transitioning, after eight years of living as a woman, he deeply regretted this decision. He decided to go back to living as his biological sex, a male. He states that when he decided to transition from a man to a woman, he had all the support one could want, but when he decided to transition back to his biological sex, there was no support to be found. He actually was slandered and harassed by many members of the LGBT community who were formerly supportive. Walt knows the personal pain he went through and he has committed his life to helping others in his same position. Because of his brokenness and the hope he found, he is currently helping people in 180 nations who have contacted him with regrets after their sex-reassignment surgery. I would encourage you to read his very compassionate and revealing books: Paper Genders; Gender, Lies and Suicide- A Whistleblower Speaks Out; A Transgender’s Faith.
The other guest to our booth was David Pickup, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist from Dallas, Texas. He came to the NEA at my request to help NEA members understand the terms “conversion therapy” and “reparative therapy” which are terms often used in the NEA. Following is his explanation. “To help clarify each, ‘conversion therapy’, suggests coercion and unethical therapeutic practices and is NOT something licensed, professional therapists support. ‘Conversion Therapy” is not a therapeutic term, but a term dubbed several years ago by LGBT activists. True trained, licensed therapists believe in the individual’s right to autonomy and they help individuals who seek their assistance to write and work toward goals that the client desires and identifies. ‘Reparative therapy’, although the term itself may constitute the idea that someone needs to “be fixed”, in its true meaning, does not mean that LGBT persons are mentally ill and must be fixed. This term refers to the research and anecdotal evidence that indicates homosexual feelings are a reparative drive to get emotional needs met in childhood and become sexualized in puberty. With this meaning, Reparative Therapy is used by a trained, licensed therapist to conduct psychotherapy/talk therapy, to help an individual resolve gender inferiority, and unmet needs in childhood for affection, affirmation and approval. It actually resolves any and all shame clients may feel, and it uses unconditional compassion.” We, as a caucus, believe the individual has a right to choose his or her pathway and deserves the right to choose a trained, licensed therapist who uses talk therapy to help them meet their self-identified goals.
This year was an interesting one for the Ex-Gay Educators Caucus. New Business Item 86 was written by a delegate from Massachusetts to try to remove our exhibit from the convention. The wording stated:
NBI 86- “Be it moved that the NEA implement its own rules and regulations on “Becoming an Exhibitor” to NEA caucuses Ex-Gay Educator and immediately remove the exhibit from the exhibit hall on the grounds that this exhibit violates existing NEA exhibitor standards. These standards state that exhibitors may not distribute materials that are offensive, distracting, or discriminatory.
Rationale/Background- NEA Expo Rules and Regulations Management reserves the right to deny any and all applications. Applicants must adhere to policies on non-discrimination and can be defined as obscene, distracting, and disruptive. This exhibit meets all criteria for an outside exhibitor.
Submitted By: Majority vote at regularly called meeting of the state (Massachusetts) delegation in connection with the annual meeting.”
When the item came to a vote, the NEA President, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, stated that NBI 86 would most likely be ruled Out of Order. In the meantime, it was decided that New Business Item 154 be combined with NBI 86 to form the following New Business Item
“For the 2018 RA, NEA, will thoroughly review and evaluate RA exhibitors’ materials for information that is offensive, obscene, or in bad taste. Based on the findings of the review the NEA will enforce its standing rules 12.B (b) and 12.B (d) as they relate to exhibitors found in violation of the aforementioned rules. Because of concerns brought by 2017 RA delegates, special scrutiny will be made to the following exhibitors:
1. NEA Ex-Gay Educators
2. Creation Truth Outreach
3. Creation Science Educators”
After discussion (which included inaccurate information against our caucus), on the promise that President Eskelsen-Garcia would personally oversee its implementation, the delegation voted to refer this new business item to the Annual Meeting Review Committee.
As you may have noticed, the title of this report is, “Do Facts Really Matter?”. The NEA Ex-Gay Educators Caucus has been in existence for 13 years. We have followed all NEA rules including getting all our materials approved by NEA each year. Our purpose has never been to tell people what to do, but to offer research, science-based materials that can provide understanding and facts on these very emotional topics. Each year we invite experts in the field to come and have dialogue with interested delegates who stop by our booth. In the past our guests have included numerous ex-gays, pediatricians/health professionals, and researchers. We have always welcomed all viewpoints to stop at our booth and engage in respectful dialogue.
I wish facts would matter. Before accusing, let’s be open-minded enough to check out the information and prove for ourselves whether it’s accurate or not. Let’s read the materials carefully so we aren’t falsely accusing, like the delegate who held up the American College of Pediatricians document we handed out at our booth entitled, ”ACPeds, AAPS, CMDA, and CMA Support Minors’ Right to Therapy” and stated that The American College of Pediatricians supported “conversion therapy” when, in fact, the College does not support it. The document actually stated, that in an attempt to ban so-called “conversion therapy,” legislatures are banning ethical talk therapy. The College believes that therapy for minors with unwanted same-sex attractions and/or gender dysphoria must NOT be banned. The state must not violate minors’ right to seek psychotherapy they believe may aid them, and must not restrict the right of licensed professional counselors to provide this ethical care. I would encourage you to read the accompanying science and researched documents put out by the College of Pediatricians (www.Best4Children.org) on these very important topics.
I have found that sometimes those who claim to be the most tolerant are the ones forcing their views on others or silencing those who hold a different viewpoint no matter if they have facts or not. I believe all of us could only wish for respect and fairness, which is something I could only hope the NEA stands for.
Susan Halvorson, Caucus Chair