NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago – 2011

Facts or Feelings
NEA- RA Report 2011

The National Education Association, the largest democratic, deliberative body in the world, met in Chicago, June 30 through July 5, to conduct its annual representative assembly business. Delegates, numbering a little over 8,000, met to make decisions for the union. Dennis Van Roekel and Lilly Eskelsen were re-elected as NEA president and vice president for a three year term. Among other items of business, 97 New Business Items were discussed and voted on. In a secret ballot vote, delegates chose to back Barak Obama for president in 2012 by a 72% to 28% margin.

Prior to the Representative Assembly, the NEA Ex-gay Educators’ Caucus once again had a booth at the NEA Expo. Mary Lokers, ex-gay from Michigan, was able to share her story how after 16 years in the homosexual life, she decided to get information and make decisions based on facts rather than simply acting on her feelings. Her life exudes the joy and contentment she possesses after being out of homosexuality for four years. You can read her story on her blog- http://sharinglightinthemidstofdarkness.blogspot.com/p/untangled-by-truth.html Also in attendance at the Expo booth were Leon and Angela Yuan, who were able to share the amazing story of their son, Christopher’s journey out of homosexuality. His story has been written in the book entitled, Out of a Far Country, by Christopher and Angela Yuan. Additionally at the booth, many pieces of information containing facts, medical information, and scientific studies were distributed.

Very concerning to me on the topic of sexual orientation and gender identification was a sparsely attended training for teachers entitled “Drawing Connections: Exploring Intersections- Gender, Race and Sexual Orientation.” It was offered at the Women and Minorities Pre-Conference. The training purported the idea that we all carry biases which could potentially limit ourselves or others from pursuing our feelings or perceived destiny in life. For example, if an individual is born a male, but perceives himself to be a female, we should celebrate diversity and the individual should be supported in his desire to become a female. One problem with this theory is the omission of the fact that every cell in one’s body, except the sex cells, already identifies that we are a male or a female. (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002327.htm ) Rather than presenting facts, medical information, and scientific studies, the training stressed acting on one’s feelings and perceptions rather than considering facts. If this philosophy should permeate into our schools, how will our children be affected? Studies show that children during adolescence already struggle with confusion and experimentation. We certainly don’t want to plant seeds of doubt that will inspire decisions someone may later deeply regret. Additonally, teaching kids to make choices based on feelings and perceptions stands in direct opposition to reading comprehension and higher level thinking skills teachers so wisely espouse.

Finally, as much as some gay activists want to ridicule and deride the idea of ex-gays, thousands currently exist. The NEA Ex-gay Educators’ Caucus exists to make change in the NEA by presenting facts at the NEA conventions in the areas of sexual orientation and gender identification. It is my hope that after two and a half years of requesting and being denied ex-gay representation on the NEA Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Committee, discrimination will come to an end, and ex-gays will finally realize committee representation.

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Halvorson, Chair
NEA Ex-gay Educators’ Caucus
8/9/11

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