- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 4, 2001

Delegates to the National Education Association's annual convention, convened this week in Los Angeles, are expected to vote on a resolution to help the nation's public schools "reduce and eliminate intolerance and insensitivity toward gays and lesbians."

The resolution, which will be debated by the teachers union's 10,000 delegates, meeting through Saturday at the L.A. Convention Center, calls for the creation of a curriculum and classroom materials designed "to meet the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students," according to wording in a proposed draft. It also calls for recognition of homosexual school employees as "role models."

"NEA members firmly believe that America's public schools should be secular, but not values-free," said NEA President Bob Chase in a statement about "Resolution New B." "Parents and the general public agree that school should teach and model values like respect, responsibility, honesty and hard work. At the same time, we believe that children should get their moral guidance from their parents, communities of faith, religious leaders and religious texts."

"Some critics want the public schools to be an agent of moral doctrine, condemning children and adults when they are not in accord with biblical precepts," Mr. Chase said. "We believe it is impossible to create a safe haven for children — physically safe and emotionally secure — while condemning their beliefs."

It is not clear if the resolution has enough support from convention delegates to pass. At least one state NEA affiliate, the Oklahoma Education Association, has publicly opposed it, noting that other previously passed resolutions have addressed issues of discrimination.

OEA President Carolyn Crowder, in reports published in the Daily Oklahoman newspaper, called Resolution New B's language "too volatile," noting that it "could be interpreted as promoting a social agenda."

The resolution, as drafted, calls for the "accurate portrayal of the roles and contributions of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people throughout history." It also calls for "coordination with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organizations and concerned agencies that promote the contributions, heritage, culture, history, health and care of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people."

The resolution, which could be tabled or amended during floor debate, has already drawn criticism from conservative groups, who charge that the NEA's efforts to bring a pro-homosexual curriculum to public schools "censor" important facts about health risks.

"This is another attempt by the homosexual lobby to indoctrinate children as young as kindergarten in the homosexual lifestyle," said Family Research Council spokeswoman Genevieve Wood. "Young people who are sexually confused need the facts about homosexuality. They need to know that research shows they aren't 'born gay,' and that there is hope for a way out of the lifestyle, and that continuing in homosexuality presents serious health risks. The NEA's proposal would censor such honesty."

Yesterday, Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based international Christian ministerial organization, held a protest rally outside the convention center, which was attended by about 500 people.

Dick Carpenter, education policy analyst for Focus, said he talked to several delegates, who said the issue was already becoming heated, with some teachers worrying that it could overshadow other important measures before the delegates this year.

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