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Report on 2015 NEA Expo Ex-Gay Educators’ Caucus

This year the NEA Convention was held in Orlando, Florida, July 1-6. Dr. Paul Sullins, Department of Sociology, The Catholic University of America, was our caucus’ special guest. He is a devoted scholar and researcher in the field of social sciences and very capable of handling the hard core statistical challenges faced by visitors to our NEA EXPO booth. He was also very effective at drawing passers-by into discussions about many aspects of human sexuality, including his recent research on same sex parenting. I would encourage you to check out his research on-line.

Most encounters at our exhibit booth were at least civil and some were very supportive. There were a few hostile encounters, too. After reading the title of our caucus (NEA EXGAY EDUCATORS CAUCUS), one man walked right up and shaking his finger in my face said, “You are damaging children. Shame on you!” He talked over my comment that I support his right to have another opinion. Obviously the good will was not reciprocated!

When asked by Dr. Sullins if he knew what an Exgay was, another man walked by without even slowing his pace and said, “They don’t exist.”

A couple approached the booth and the husband, a school counselor, I believe, got into a heavy discussion of the research. When his wife had a turn, she explained how she believes adolescents need to experiment with sexuality to see which direction feels right to them. I interjected, “Do you believe a person finds out who they are by consulting their feelings?” She said, “No,” and went on to embellish her previous position but was obviously distracted by my question and her body language told me she was recognizing that perhaps she was saying that feelings tell you who you are. When she finished, I said, “Do you think it’s OK if a person wants other parts of them, like their goals to have a family, or their faith, to be a more important source than feelings to tell them who they are?” With a look of genuine discovery on her face, she said, “That’s a new thought!”

Another young man came to express his views more than listen to anything we had to say. His comment that stuck in my mind was, “I believe there should be a law against a physician writing a baby’s gender on their birth certificate because they’re too young to know what they want to be.”

During a lull in the traffic, a man from Cameroon expressed his desire to see polygamy accepted in America. In his Muslim country, he said it is very frustrating and sad when his countrymen came to this country to avoid the dangerous hostility of the Muslim extremists to have to choose one of their 4 wives to bring along and leave the other 3 in danger. He repeated several times that not all Muslims are terrorists. I asked him what he thinks might happen to the homosexuals in the US if Sharia law gains more influence. His reply, “They will put an end to that.” He didn’t say how.

Some conversations lead to topics of religion and freedom of religion. Many were able to concede that it is OK for a person to make their religion a priority over their sexuality but most were also quick to add, “But it’s not OK to make someone feel forced to do so!” Many were suspicious that we were prompting religion and religious tradition on this issue. There were also a few who wanted our information to be fair in presenting all sides of the issue and a few who openly identified as Christians. Although we were open to taking conversations into the spiritual aspects of this issue, most conversations centered around sharing of little known research information and discussions of freedom on the issue.

At the representative assembly, the delegates voted on some troublesome things this year. Right off the bat, the first item put to the vote by NEA leadership in complete denial of recent punitive rulings against Christians, was to use NEA resources to fight “bogus” religious liberty laws that might make discrimination and hatred against LGBT people more entrenched. They also voted to revise history books to make them more “relevant.” Another item (NBI #84) attacks the use of the words, “right to work!” There were several transgender supportive business items that passed including allowing children to dress as boys or girls or use whatever restrooms they wished. Many items were disturbing, but this one submitted by vote of state delegations pushed my buttons: (New Business Item 86) “NEA will disseminate to educators through existing publications current information regarding the methods and damaging effects of anti-gay “conversion/reparative therapies”. This was debated and re-worded to tone it down. The item initially supported legislation to make it illegal for counselors to attempt to help a young person with unwanted same sex attraction. During the debate, a delegate raised the question, “Is it the intent of this item to do away with the NEA EXGAY EDUCATORS CAUCUS?” The author replied, “Absolutely not!” I find it interesting that although NEA included the category “Q” (defined by them as “QUESTIONING” as in NBI 78) in decisions supportive of LGBTQ individuals, they also voted to limit the freedom and resources for those who are questioning their sexuality in NBI 86! To view more of the 2015 NEA decisions, go to http://www.nea.org/ra. This will give you a list of all the items that passed and full coverage of the 2015 Representative Assembly.

Jeralee Smith
Founder, NEA Ex-Gay Educators Caucus

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.

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Homosexuality 101

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.

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Report on 2014 NEA EXPO EX-GAY EDUCATORS’ CAUCUS

Given the controversy over the homosexual issue in recent years and previous experiences of tense interactions at NEA’s Annual Meeting and EXPO over the past 10 years, I was anticipating a rough 2 days at this year’s NEA EXPO in Denver. I knew I would be alone at the exhibit for periods of time as my only other help, Sissy Jochmann (Chair of the Conservative Educators Caucus) needed to fulfill other responsibilities in addition to assisting me at the EX-GAY EDUCATORS’ EXHIBIT. I was happily wrong!

When I arrived to set up the exhibit on Monday, I found our assigned spot in the back corner. The backdrop curtain was wrapped around a high railing and our “NEA EX-GAY EDUCATORS’ CAUCUS” sign was entangled in the curtain hanging by one hook. A rack of clothing belonging to the dress shop exhibit next to me blocked the view of our exhibit from anyone walking down the isle. I climbed up on a chair to unravel the curtain but could not reach high enough to re-hang our sign. A young man who working as a convention staff offered to help. He finished with a hearty, “God bless you!” My anticipation began to change.

We had a wide choice of materials to share, thanks to PFOX, Dr. Ramey, Rosaria Butterfield, and others. Our materials addressed bullying in schools; children being raised in same sex homes; health concerns of homosexuals; results of research studies; and other related issues.

During the next two days, teachers trickled by our exhibit, most with expressions of puzzlement and some with disgust. A few stopped to talk about the issue. The question was usually, “So what is an ‘Exgay?’” Our answer, “A person with unwanted same gender attractions who does not want to embrace a homosexual identity. Here are the personal stories and research which support our viewpoint.” I would usually make it more personal making sure the person knew this was my own history. Conversation rarely went deeper than that. People would pick up a few items, especially “EXGAY IS OK” buttons or bookmarks and perhaps a few brochures or research articles. A few returned to purchase Rosaria Butterfield’s book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.

The conversations that made our efforts seem worthwhile were few but important. Several openly gay people came by to respectfully engage discussion of recent events such as John Paulk’s article in Politico, “From Gay to Straight and Back,” or the dissolution of Exodus. Such conversations always attracted a group of listeners. We affirmed the right of people to make those choices but said, “We are here to stand for the right of individuals with unwanted same gender attraction to pursue other avenues besides embracing a homosexual identity and way of life. We are not here to coerce anyone to make changes they don’t want to make.” I also was able to explain that the caucus was founded when I realized that I could be forced to teach something on this issue that was contrary to my own personal experience. We also pointed out to several that CA and NJ now have laws that prohibit mental health professionals from assisting youth to resolve their same gender attraction issues in any other way than by embracing homosexuality and we believe that is a violation of our right to pursue happiness. Many were surprised that such laws exist and seemed to agree that it infringes on freedom, even when they disagreed with our views.

We had a libertarian teacher stop by to ask if we had an exhibit last year. He had missed us and was in the habit of stopping by for any new info. He affirmed our right to be there and was supportive of our theme of personal freedom.

After a group of people walked by, a convention staff young woman stopped and asked, “Tell me about this.” Before I could get out a complete sentence, she said, “That’s me.” I replied, “It was me, too.” As I explained a bit more, she listened briefly appearing to be cautious to avoid being seen at our booth. She took some resources and promised to watch the online video by FAMILY WATCH INTERNATIONAL and slipped away as she said, “I think God is talking to me.”

All of these conversations which had a measure of reasonableness to them, were well worth the effort and expense of being there. By placing ourselves in the pathway of people who have opposing views, we are showing that we are real people representing a view that is not malicious to personal freedom but rather dignifies individual choice. It is very important that we hold the place we have carved out inside the NEA in future years as long as we are able. We deeply appreciate the support of the many individual and groups who have provided us with materials and moral support through the years. And we welcome participation at future exhibits by anyone who feels the calling to be there or feels impressed to help financially.

Thank you

Jeralee Smith
Founder, NEA EXGAY EDUCATORS CAUCUS
July 21, 2014

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.

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Understanding Same-sex Attraction

This documentary is an eye-opening experience for many as it presents clear evidence showing that no one is “born gay” and that many people with unwanted same-sex attraction have been able to change. We summarize the research data, include interviews with top experts in the field, and present powerful testimonials from four men who speak honestly, openly and compellingly about what it was like for them to develop same-sex attraction and live the homosexual lifestyle. They then discuss their experiences with therapy that helped them to develop a healthy heterosexual sexual orientation.

In conjunction with the release of this video, we are also releasing our extensive new policy brief, Laws Banning Sexual Orientation Change Therapy are Harmful and Violate Fundamental Human Rights. http://familywatchinternational.org/fwi/documents/fwipolicybriefSOCE.pdf

Our new documentary and policy brief together are very timely. More and more people are confused because of misinformation regarding homosexuality, and they believe the “born that way” (and can’t change) myth. Increasingly, the rights of those who seek change therapy (also known as sexual orientation change therapy or SOCE) are violated, as laws are being enacted to ban it.

This information comes from Family Watch International.

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.

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NEA Representative Assembly Report 2013- Unsafe Schools

The NEA Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly was held this year in Atlanta, Georgia, June 26- July 6. In reporting, I choose to focus on an alarming NEA action taken at the convention and hence the title to this report (Unsafe Schools). New Business Item 30, which delegates narrowly passed, to which I spoke in opposition, was the issue of great concern:

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 such as, but not limited to “Unheard Voices” an oral history and curriculum project for middle and high school students created in collaboration by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Story Corps.”

On the surface this New Business Item may seem harmless, but if you investigate the website and look at the curriculum, “Unheard Voices,” an alarm for the safety of our students should sound. Let me give an example and direct quote from the curriculum itself which I presented to the NEA delegation:

After listening to an interview of transgender, Jamison Green, who transitioned from female to male in 1988, the classroom discussion (not in a book brought home) questions include: “When someone suggested to Green that he might be transsexual, he says he ‘reacted in complete horror.’ Why do you think he was so scared? What messages had he received growing up that made him afraid to even explore transitioning? What messages have you received (from family, friends, media, school, places of worship) about transgender people?”

This curriculum is for 6th through 12th graders. I personally teach 6, 7, and 8th grade. Children are so impressionable and already have confusion about sexual issues from media and other sources. Introduction of material like this would be devastating. Take Massachusetts, for example, where this type of curriculum was introduced after same-sex marriage was legalized. A recent Massachusetts survey, Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, completed by high school students across that state, reveals that students identifying as gay and who had same-sex contact rose by approximately 50% from 2005 to 2009. Now transgender, changing one’s gender, is being introduced.

Why should our children have to deal with this type of curriculum? If you listen to the interviews in the “Unheard Voices” curriculum, you can plainly see that the suggestion and encouragement of others played a great role in the individuals’ transitioning. This curriculum only encourages gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender action and mentions no risks; but there are risks to physical health and mental health.
(1) Rigorous studies demonstrate that sexuality in adolescents is fluid and that most adolescents who initially experience same-sex attraction, or are sexually confused, no longer experience such attractions by age 25.
(2) New Business Items passed by the delegates at the NEA Convention are directives for the NEA to take their monies to enact the approved new business item. Since this New Business Item was ratified, teachers and parents, please become knowledgeable of this attack on our children.

(1) www.factsaboutyouth.com
(2) National Health and Social Life Survey (1994) in. E.O. Laumann et al, The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 292-296.

No NEA Ex-Gay Caucus Expo Booth This Year

After securing an NEA Ex-Gay Caucus booth for the NEA Expo in Atlanta on April 22, 2013, I received a notice from CEPI (Conventions-Exhibits-Promotions-Inc.), Expo organizers, June 13, 2013, that my booth confirmation had been revoked as we no longer had NEA caucus status.

I quickly contacted NEA, as I had heard nothing to this effect from them. I was informed that, “Yes, the information I had been given by CEPI was correct.” (This surprised me as we have had status for the past nine years.) I was told that January 26, 2011, an email had been sent to all caucus chairs requiring a response that would “grandfather in” the caucus before new rules went into effect. I had changed my email address August 7, 2009, and consequently did not receive the email. By the way, this was the first and only caucus email I had been sent by NEA in my eight years of being caucus chair. My next step, I was told, was to re-file for caucus status. New rules require 25 NEA members and updated caucus information. Since I only found out we were not a recognized caucus on June 13, 2013, I was told it would be impossible to have an Expo booth this year because we needed committee approval and their earliest meeting date would be in September.

If you are an NEA member and you support what the Ex-Gay Caucus stands for, please consider joining. Caucus members do not need to be ex-gay themselves, but must support the beliefs offered by the caucus and explained on this website. The mission of a caucus is to make change within the NEA. Please feel free to email with any questions: admin@nea-exgay.org

Respectfully submitted,

Susan Halvorson

9/6/13

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.

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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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Sexual Orientation Consensus Guidelines Include Ex-Gays

News Release:  March 15, 2006
Contact:  Regina Griggs, PFOX Director, 703-360-2225
http://www.pfox.org

New public school guidelines endorsed by gay group GLSEN and Christian organization CEAI

WASHINGTON, DC –  The First Amendment Center has released the first consensus guidelines to help public schools develop sexual orientation policies.  The new guidelines advise school officials to include the viewpoints of all participants in order to develop policies that promote fairness for all.  According to Charles Haynes, a primary drafter of the guidelines and Senior Scholar at the First Amendment Center, the ex-gay viewpoint in public schools is protected by the First Amendment and should be heard.

Haynes explained that incidents such as the one last year in Montgomery County, Maryland, might have been avoided had guidelines like these been in place.  In that case, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) successfully sued the Montgomery County School Board for failing to include the ex-gay viewpoint.  Haynes said, “Americans are deeply divided over homosexuality in our society.  But if public school officials and community leaders use the ground rules of the First Amendment, they can reach agreement on how public schools can guard the rights of all students in a safe learning environment.”

One of the endorsers to the guidelines also agrees that school officials should consider the ex-gay viewpoint.  “The strength in the framework of the guidelines is that all sides should be heard and this does include the ex-gay perspective, ” said Finn Laursen, director of Christian Educators Association International (CEAI).

“As PFOX continues to work for inclusion and respect of the ex-gay viewpoint in public schools nationwide, we are assured by the consensus guidelines that the ex-gay viewpoint is protected by the First Amendment,” said Regina Griggs, PFOX Director.  “In too many schools, the ex-gay viewpoint is censored or marginalized.  Now school districts are held to a standard of respect.  According to the new guidelines, actions by educators to exclude some views merely because they disagree with them constitute viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment.”

The guidelines have also been endorsed by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), American Association of School Administrators, and Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

PFOX is a non-profit organization supporting families and the ex-gay community.  The First Amendment Center is associated with the Newseum and Freedom Forum.  The guidelines are available at http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org.

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