Friday, July 8, 2005

LOS ANGELES — The National Education Association ended its four-day convention here with a big victory for members promoting homosexual advocacy, but debate by conservatives seeking resolutions condemning adult-minor sexual contact and supporting respect for “all living things” was cut off.

“It was a very obvious attempt to stifle dissent on issues with which they disagree — biblical issues or issues on the [political] right,” said David Kaiser, a retired teacher from Ohio, who was blocked from discussing his proposal to strike language allowing the right to abortion from the union’s family-planning policy.

The 9,000 delegates at the 2.7-million-member union’s yearly business meeting also blocked a proposal by Ohio delegate Keith Gudorf to put the NEA on record that its longtime policy of “compassion and respect for all living things” in an animal vivisection section also applied to humans in the family-planning section.

Also blocked was a proposal by California delegate Diane Lenning, ousted chairwoman of the NEA Republican Educators Caucus, to amend the union’s sexual-assault policy to state that “the association deplores the advocacy of adult/minor sexual contact.”

But convention delegates resoundingly referred the conservative delegates’ proposed resolution amendments to its national resolutions committee, thus killing discussion and action at the meeting that ended Wednesday.

The convention handed the large Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus approval of its proposal for the union to “develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with the new and more sophisticated attacks on [school] curricula, policies, and practices that support GLBT students, families, and staff members in public schools.”

The “new business item” offered by the chairman of the homosexual caucus, Connecticut delegate Thomas Nicholas, was predicated on his assertion that “extremist groups are using increasingly sophisticated and aggressive tactics to attack school districts with affirming GLBT policies, curriculum, and practices.”

Mr. Nicholas told the convention that a third of GLBT students drop out of high school because of harassment and that four out of five daily face verbal or physical harassment at school.

NEA President Reg Weaver stopped debate when booing interrupted Pennsylvania delegate Sissy Jochmann, who said she opposed the proposal because homosexual-affirming programs in schools fail to point out that “some people who have same-sex attraction have changed … and instead have successfully actualized their heterosexual potential and are now ex-gay.”

Mrs. Jochmann said youths who experience same-sex attraction “have a right to hear the stories of former homosexuals and be exposed to the research that validates them in order to help them make informed personal decisions.”

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