Classroom "conversations" about gays? NEA delegates approved new language for Resolution I-39, Elimination of Discrimination, at its July convention. The revised version changes "sexual orientation" to "sexual orientation/gender identification," and adds this new paragraph: "The national Education Association believes that honest and open conversation is a precursor to change. The Association encourages its members and all other members of the educational community to engage in courageous conversations in order to examine assumptions, prejudices, discriminatory practices, and their effects."
Legislative Program supports federal employment discrimination law. The NEA's lobbying efforts will now include support for a federal law "prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation/gender identification." Such a sweeping law at the federal level could have serious consequences for religious organizations and small business owners.
Both this change and the revisions to Resolution I-39 are a result of the NEA Board's adoption in February 2002 of the Report of the NEA Task Force On Sexual Orientation. Also on tap are the establishment of an Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation/Gender Identification and the awarding of official observer status to gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered persons at NEA Board and Executive Committee meetings.
Lobbying efforts include support for U.N. treaties. Long a supporter of the United Nations, the NEA's Legislative Program for 2002 urges U.S. ratification of controversial U.N. treaties including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.