Teachers Union Seeks to Remove Ex-Gay Group's Booth, Calling It Discriminatory

The NEA holds its annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, June 25-July 5, 2017. | (Photo: Facebook/NEA)

The nation's largest teachers' union introduced a resolution to remove an ex-gay group's booth from the exhibit hall at their annual meeting this week in Boston.

The NEA (National Education Association) is seeking to "immediately remove" the NEA Ex-Gay Educators Caucus exhibit "on the grounds that this exhibit violates existing NEA exhibitor standards." Those standards state that "exhibitors may not distribute materials that are offensive, distracting, or discriminatory."

The resolution is currently "awaiting debate" at the NEA meeting.

Meanwhile, the NEA has adopted a resolution to "continue to advance the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) students and educators by taking the following actions to counter the continuing backlash against LGBTQ individuals" such as advocating for increased LGBTQ protections and considering not holding future NEA meetings in a city or state that has adopted a law the union deems discriminatory.

According to its website, the NEA Ex-Gay Educators Caucus' purpose is to "eliminate intolerance and discrimination against ex-gay students, teachers, and their supporters."

The group defines an ex-gay as someone who has "unwanted same gender attractions" and "does not want to embrace a homosexual identity." Its request in 2010 to add "ex-gays" to the list of individuals (LGBTQ) needing protection from discrimination was denied.

The group has been able to host a booth at previous NEA meetings (except in 2013) and has detailed both civil and hostile encounters with attendees on its website. 

Jeralee Smith, founder of the ex-gay caucus, commented in 2014 that "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."

The NEA consists of 3 million members who work from the preschool to university graduate level.

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