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|NUMBER 187||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||AUGUST 2001|
New Gay Resolution Tabled at NEA Convention|
Described by some observers as "in your face," New B would have consolidated and amended several existing resolutions demanding "acceptance and appreciation" of "diversity." New B called for "curricula, instructional materials and programs" supporting the gay agenda, including "involvement of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender educators in developing educational materials used in classroom instruction" and "recognition of the importance of gay, lesbian and transgender education employees as role models."
"Far from backing away from these issues, [the] task force will expand the scope of the inquiry," vowed NEA President Bob Chase. As Focus on the Family Education Policy Analyst Dick Carpenter put it, this means NEA activists will ". . . explore the issue a little further to see how they can reshape it to push it through."
When draft language of New B became public earlier this year, it stirred up unprecedented criticism from some NEA state affiliates. The Oklahoma Education Association openly opposed it, calling the language "too volatile" and noting that "it could be interpreted as promoting a social agenda." During the convention, Tennessee delegates expressed fear that passage of the resolution would cause a loss of membership and requested a vote on New Business Item (NBI) 59, which read: "The NEA shall hold its affiliates harmless, for a period of five years, for any loss of dues revenue related to loss of membership beginning with the 2001-2002 mem-bership year if Resolution New B is passed."
On July 3rd, convention delegates debated the resolution in an open hearing while approximately 600 parents, activists and pastors rallied against its passage outside the Los Angeles Convention Center. The delegates were sharply divided on the issue. One convention observer, who asked to remain anonymous, told Education Reporter that, although each speaker was to be limited to two or three minutes, pro-New B speakers were given considerable leeway - up to seven minutes - while opponents were held to their officially-allotted time. After the convention, a delegate told Dr. James Dobson on his radio program that "the rally going on outside" had given her and other opponents added strength and support in speaking out against the resolution.
Although New B was not brought to a convention vote, the union president assured delegates that "in no way is NEA backing away from dealing with the important issues raised by the proposed resolution." Chase's pledge was validated when existing resolutions affirming nearly every point covered in the withdrawn New B were passed at the convention. (See Resolutions B-7, B-9, B-38, B-40, C-22, C-27, D-8, F-1, I-10, I-38 and I-42.)
Other resolutions reaffirmed the NEA's policies of the past, including opposition to school choice, homeschooling, parental supervision of sex education, anti-missile defense, and endorsement of the feminist agenda, including the Equal Rights Amendment, abortion and the system of wage control called Comparable Worth.