Washington, D.C. was the site of the NEA Representative Assembly this year. More than 8,000 delegates from around the nation met from June 28- July 5, 2012, to attend trainings and to do the business of the union. NEA leadership reported that NEA has lost many members this year and that the budget will need to be cut by $65 million.
At the Joint Conference on Concerns of Minorities and Women, held prior to the Representative Assembly, I attended a session entitled “Drawing Connections: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Gender & Sexual Orientation.” This teacher training had as two of its key objectives: 1.) to review the concepts of gender, race, and sexual orientation within the social justice framework 2.) to pursue strategies and resources to address diversity and the “whole student.” The portion I want to discuss here is, according to this training, seeds of doubt could be planted in children’s minds as to what gender they are. Are they a boy trapped in a girl’s body, etc.? This is very concerning to me. Except in a very small number of cases, individuals are born clearly either male or female. As we listen to this issue being discussed in the public arena, we are beginning to see T.V. shows, and also articles in magazines, about transgender issues and how sex-reassignment surgery is a viable option.
Along the same lines, a New Business Item was introduced and passed on the floor of the Representative Assembly which stated, “NEA will re-affirm its commitment to our proud legacy of promoting social justice and equality of educational opportunity for every student, and professional status for every teacher and Education Support Professional by: NEA shall also address in a special dialogue the unique issues of LGBTQ students and educators and make recommendations.” My concern, which I stated on the floor of the assembly, was this: “Is this going to include training and material for our children commensurate with the NEA trainings I have experienced, which glorified cross-dressing and put seeds of doubt in minds as to what gender someone is?” I will be following this very closely to see what action, if any, is being taken in the schools.
This year at our NEA Ex-gay Educators’ Caucus booth at the NEA Expo, Greg Quinlan and Denise Shick were guests. Greg, a former homosexual who has been out of the lifestyle for 20 years, was able to share his story and talk with many booth visitors. Denise Shick shared her heart-wrenching story of growing up in a home where her father demonstrated gender confusion and eventually had sex-reassignment surgery (changing from a man to a woman). The agony, confusion and pain it caused culminated in her father writing a poem at the end of his life. In his poem, he expressed his feelings of loss and despair at thinking the change would be fulfilling, only to find out it left him empty. The last three lines of his poem were, “Where am I? Who am I? All is loss.” Denise Shick is a compassionate individual who has now begun a ministry for families going through similar, agonizing experiences. I would encourage you to visit her website: http://www.help4families.com and to read her book My Daddy’s Secret.
Gender Confusion. My heart is heavy. God help us.
NEA Ex-gay Educators’ Caucus, Chair