Educators sought to speak out for ENDA

From: Kevin Jennings, GLSTN

I am directing to you a very important request for individuals who are educators who can be spokespeople on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

As you may know, ENDA is a proposed federal law that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, thus extending protections to those who live in the 41 states where there are no such laws today. In the last Congressional session, this law failed by one vote.

During that debate, opponents of ENDA (led by Republican Senator Aschroft of Missouri) used the specter of lesbian and gay teachers to try to discourage support for the bill. Posing LGB teachers as a "threat to children," these Senators argued that ENDA would place our children at risk and thus should be defeated.

It is becoming clear that this line of attack will be a key strategy in trying to defeat the bill in this session. The bill's co-sponsors and the Human Rights Campaign are all on record as refusing the support a bill that does not protect teachers, but also know that we need to be prepared for the kinds of attacks that Ashcroft launched last session.

To this end, GLSTN is working to educate Congresspeople on the fact that there are thousands of lesbian and gay educators who are outstanding teachers and should not lose their jobs because of anti-gay bias. Our specific project at this time is to put together a briefing book which tells the stories of a few of the individuals which can be used to educate Senators.

To do so, we would like to solicit from among you some self-nominations (or of others you know) who fit this bill. We are particularly looking for individuals with the following qualities: 1. educators who have been formally recognized for outstanding performance (through Teacher of the Year awards and the like); 2. Teachers who can provide documentation in the form of evaluations from supervisors, news articles, parental letters, etc. as to their superb performance; 3. Teachers who have administrators who will speak up to attest to their performance; 4. Teachers who come from states where opposition is anticipated and/or votes are in the balance( examples include: North Carolina, North Dakota, Utah, Missouri and, if you live in one of the other states that should be on this list, you probably don't need me to tell you that!).

We'll be asking these folks to provide documentation we can assemble into a book to brief Congresspeople with, and there is also the possibility that these individuals may be called upon to do media advocacy and/or testify.

I know this may be hard for some people to do: as a former teacher, I know that we are trained not to "brag" about our work. However, by being visible examples of educators who are both gay/lesbian/bisexual and outstanding teachers, the folks who participate in this project will play an important role in defeating the lies and stereotypes which we all so know. Now is not the time to hide your light under a bushel. Step forward.

Please send an e-mail with the title "ENDA Witness" to me at GLSTNKev@aol.com if you are interested in serving in this way.


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