Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The News from Orlando

In a previous life, I was on the steering committee for the NEA-GLBT Caucus. I was also a founding member of my state education association's GLBT Caucus. I spent many hours and lots of tears in the past few years trying to move my Red State Education Association forward on GLBT issues. I also spent many hours on various committees for the state association, working for the best interest of ALL teachers and students. And, every time the right wing orchestrated an attack on the NEA based on its positions on sexual orientation, or I heard a colleague talk about the "damage" that is done by focusing on "social" issues not "education" issues, it was a stab to my heart.

Every so often, the state association does something to win me back. Today was one of those times. The NEA was considering a new resolution that would voice support for same-sex couples being able to create legal relationships. While this is hardly a news-worthy, earth-shattering action, there are folks out there who were organizing a counter-attack. Our state president was one of the ones who received thousands of emails and voicemails asking her to lead our state delegation in voting against the new resolution.

Since I am not a delegate, and am not in Orlando for Convention, I have been left trusting the universe to make sure the correct outcome occurs. And, today, I received an email from a friend of mine who is a delegate. Turns out that not only did the resolution pass, not only did our president voice support to the state, not only did the state vote in favor of the resolution, our president spoke on behalf of the new resolution on the floor of the RA, and the resolution passed overwhelmingly.

Five years ago, when three of us started our Caucus, we never, ever thought we would see something like this happen. Our state has never been among the trailblazers for gay-rights. Hell, 10 years ago, they were among the holdouts who refused to endorse a similar resolution. I can't help but feel that I am part of a legacy here. I am so proud of my state president for taking this stand (and even prouder that my work has been institutionalized to the point where I don't need to be the one advocating for change). Last year, I made an impassioned speech at our state delegation meeting about all of us needing to be recognized in our fight for civil rights, and apparently some of the members of the Black Caucus took offense. One of our African-American classroom assistants came up to me, shaking with anger, and proceeded to tell me that some of her friends weren't speaking to her. She continued to tell me that when they bitched about my speech, she told them, "If you all would open your eyes and see how homophobia and racism are intertwined, my closeted gay son might not have died of AIDS."

I am so pleased that folks like Deanna finally felt empowered to speak their hearts as well. And, even more pleased that people have changed their minds so much in the past year.


At 1:06 PM, Blogger Mo said...

That is great news! (although I'm really sorry about your co-worker's son). Best wishes with the surgery today.


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