The NEA RA was held July 1-7 in Houston, TX. This year’s theme was Our Democracy. Our Responsibility. Our Time! 6,166 delegates gathered to do the business of the union.
Since this was the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, NEA celebrated by sponsoring the “Rise Up for Love Block Party” with the 2019 Pride Fest featuring the drag kings and queens of Houston presenting a drag show. On July 3, along with participating partners Equality Texas, Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN, Stonewall National Museum and Archives, Gender Spectrum, and the National Black Justice Coalition, NEA hosted a Stonewall Day of Action with a rally at Discovery Green Park across from the convention center. The program theme was “Rise Up for Love: Stonewall and Beyond.” To give you a flavor of the rally, the crowd was led in the chant,
“WE WILL NOT OBEY: RACISM…..SEXISM…..EXPLOITATIONS….HOMOPHOBIA….TRANSPHOBIA….CAPITALISM.
WE WILL STAND, WE WILL STAND, WE WILL STAND!”
On July 5, 10 Democrat 2020 Presidential candidates joined NEA for a Candidates Forum. NEA President Lily Eskelsen-Garcia moderated a one-on-one discussion using questions generated by NEA members with each of the participants: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tim Ryan, Jay Inslee, Julian Castro, Bill de Blasio.
Passage of some of the action items at this year’s RA included:
NBI #11- using existing resources, NEA will incorporate the concept of “White Fragility” into NEA trainings/staff development, literature, and other existing communications on social, gender, LGBTQIA, and racial justice whenever and wherever context and expense allows.
NBI #20- creating a space on NEA nametags and badges for an individual’s preferred pronouns. This will only be left off only at an individual’s request
NBI #47- NEA will work with current partners, such as GLSEN, to expand on the number of professional development opportunities for GSA (Gender Sexuality Alliances) advisors. To provide training in starting a new GSA, information on how to handle possible backlash from different stakeholders, supply of model GSA projects & activities
NBI #48- NEA providing model legislation state affiliates can use to lobby for a K-12 cross-content curriculum that is LGBTQ+ inclusive.
NBI #s 55, 59, 60- Take actions to organize and mobilize in support of the Equality Act to be a top legislative priority
NBI #56- Through existing media channels, the NEA will honor the leadership of women, non-binary, and trans people, and other survivors who have come forward to publicly name their rapists and attackers in the growing, international, #MeToo movement. Furthermore, the NEA will include an assertion of our defense of a person’s right to control their own body, especially for women, youth, and sexually marginalized people. The NEA vigorously opposes all attacks on the right to choose and stands on the fundamental right to abortion under Roe v. Wade.
NBI #118- The NEA will call on the U.S. government to accept responsibility for the destabilization of Central American countries (including, but not limited to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua), and that this destabilization is a root cause of the recent increase of asylum seekers in the United States.
NBI #121- NEA will create a task force to examine means of data collection on discrimination, harassment, and bullying of members by the National Education Association leadership on the basis of race, gender identity and expression, or sexual orientation. The task force will also develop a process of grievance submission and accountability, as well as development and dissemination of reporting procedure and protocol.
Constitutional Amendment 3
To open NEA membership to public education allies while preserving NEA governance positions for education professionals and active equivalents.
Article II. Membership
Section 2. Membership Eligibility: Provisions and Limitations.
a. Membership, as provided in the Bylaws, shall be open to persons who are: (i) engaged in the profession of teaching or in other educational work; (ii) members of a state affiliate in the state affiliate’s membership category that is equivalent to the Association’s Active membership category; or (iii) persons interested in advancing the cause of public education. All members of the Association shall agree to subscribe to the goals and objectives of the Association and to abide by its Constitution and Bylaws.
b. Members engaged in teaching or in other educational work shall adhere to the Code of Ethics of the Education Profession.
c. An application for membership shall be subject to review as provided in the Bylaws.
d. The Association shall not deny membership to individuals on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed, gender, sexual orientation, age, handicap, marital status, or economic status, nor shall any organization which so denies membership be affiliated with the Association.
e. Persons interested in advancing the cause of public education who are granted membership pursuant to section 2a(iii) above and who are not eligible for any other category of membership shall not have the right to serve as officers of the Association, as members of the Board of Directors, or as delegates to the Representative Assembly.
Article II, Section 2 of the NEA Constitution sets out the eligibility parameters for membership in the Association. Currently, membership is open to persons who are engaged in the education profession or are members of a state affiliate in a category equivalent to the Association’s Active membership category. Within the parameters set forth in the Constitution, NEA Bylaw 2-1 further defines six membership categories — Active, Aspiring Educator, Retired, Substitute, Reserve, and Staff.
If adopted, the amendment would open membership to those persons interested in advancing the cause of education who are not eligible for any other NEA membership category. The amendment would prohibit individuals eligible for membership only under this new category from voting for or serving as Association officers, members of the Board of Directors, or delegates to the Representative Assembly.
Specific details of the new membership category, including the rights and benefits afforded to such members, would be established via amendments to the NEA Bylaws and other appropriate policies.
Note: The term “active equivalent” refers to all non-education employees who are Active members of NEA and of their state association as provided by NEA Bylaw 2-1(b)iv.
Once again our caucus was targeted by NEA leadership for discrimination. An NEA rule was applied immediately to only our caucus. Other caucuses were not required to comply with the rule immediately. This year at our caucus booth, we were fortunate to have four ex-gays as guests: Jeralee Smith, Caucus founder; Adrienne Godre, a former feminist, atheist, lesbian, socialist; Greg Quinlan, ex-gay from New Jersey; Joe Dallas, author, speaker and pastoral counselor. Many public-school teachers and counselors gathered the scientific, research-based materials at our booth and thanked us for providing it. Please visit our newly posted links to have access to this excellent material. We live in a world where we need to be informed. Our children’s well-being is at stake.
NEA Ex-Gay Educators Chair
The views expressed in this document are those of the caucus. The caucus has no authority to speak for, or act on behalf of, the NEA.