THE CALIFORNIA TEACHERS ASSOCIATION GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER CAUCUS
A thesis submitted to the faculty of
San Francisco State University
In Partial fulfillment of
The Requirements for
at Master of Arts
Education: Concentration in Equity and Social Justice in Education
James Richard Sheldon
San Francisco, California
James Richard Sheldon
CERTIFICATION OF APPROVAL
I certify that I have read The California Teachers Association Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus by James Richard Sheldon, and that in my opinion this work meets the criteria for approving a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Arts in Education: Concentration in Equity and Social Justice in Education at San Francisco State University.
Professor of Administration and Interdisciplinary Studies
Professor of Administration and Interdisciplinary Studies
THE CALIFORNIA TEACHERS ASSOCIATION GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER CAUCUS
James Richard Sheldon
San Francisco, California
This thesis uses poststructuralism and queer theory as a framework for exploring the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus of the California Teachers Association. It draws upon the author’s personal experiences, informal and formal observations of caucus meetings, and five interviews with current and former caucus leaders in order to explore the caucus’ history, influence on CTA policy, conceptualizations of identity, and future directions. It concludes with some reflections on the possibilities for queer pedagogy within teachers union praxis and some thoughts on the application of queer methodology to educational research.
I certify that the abstract is a correct representation of the content of this thesis.
Chair, Thesis Committee Date
First, I would like to thank Dr. David Hemphill for his support, encouragement, and advising for the past three years. I have learned a lot from him about how to work simultaneously inside and outside the academy for social justice.
Second, I would like to thank Kai Lundgren-Williams for being a source of inspiration, advice, and mentorship.
Third, I would like to thank Troy Arnold for being both a personal and professional mentor over the past two years. He has never failed to give candid advice with genuine care.
Fourth, I would like to thank Dr. Ming-Yeah Lee, Mary Denton, Elise Paradis, Mark Galipeau, Lynne Formigli, Matthew Bateson, George Sheridan, S. Chance Carrico, Eric Heins, Linda Plack, Matthew Hardy, Gail Watts, Quinetta Gill, and Annette Baroso.
Finally, I would like to thank Mary Bryson; although I have never met her, her work on queer pedagogy inspired this thesis.
Chapter I: Introduction and Statement of the Problem
A. Personal Introduction
To tell the story of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) Caucus and their history and role within the California Teachers Association (CTA), I am going to start first with my own experiences around teaching, a path that eventually led me to getting involved with the caucus. My first experiences with teaching were confusing; as a sophomore in high school, I volunteered in a special education class at a local elementary school, where I didn’t seem to be able to connect with the children there. I also volunteered as a peer tutor, and found it difficult to help people with what had come easily to me just the year prior. But I soon found that I had an interest in education; whether it was debating curriculum with my mathematics teacher or pedagogy with my English teacher, it was clear that I had an interest in education that went far beyond the average high school student.
In 2001, I began taking formal classes about education. I worked with an “alternative” high school for high school dropouts working with them on mathematics and computer skills. I came out to my friends and parents as gay. I struggled with clinical depression. I began to study queer theory and disability studies.
In 2005, I was hospitalized for a week during my final examinations in my second-to-the last quarter at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I was growing doubtful about my goal to become a K-12 teacher and wondered: is there an organization for students who want to become teachers? Some searching online quickly revealed the student affiliate of the California Teachers Association (CTA) , the Student California Teachers Association (SCTA). I signed up as a member online, and a few months later got an invitation to run for the State Council, the governing body of the California Teachers Association. I lost the initial election but ended up getting a position when someone resigned. I showed up for my first meeting and walked into a room that summer wearing open-toed birkenstocks, a queer t-shirt, and jester hat– perfectly acceptable clothing for UC Santa Cruz but rather unusual for a meeting of future teachers. I was actually mentioned several times as an example of inappropriate and unprofessional behavior.
At this meeting and the ones to follow, the idea of the State Council and the purpose were sketched out for us in vague terms. I had no idea, however, what to expect when I actually encountered State Council. Arriving there was an overwhelming experience. My luggage got lost and I couldn’t find the shuttle bus. When I got there, it seemed more like a political convention than a governing body, with candidates thrusting stickers and free gifts left and right. I soon found out I had been assigned to the Special Education Committee, something that I had an interest in but no experience or knowledge. I would make occasional remarks from a student’s perspective, but they seemed to make little or no impression on the teachers. We would vote for candidates, and I would feel so uneducated about the choices and uncomfortable about the process that I would often just vote a blank ballot. Then I discovered the caucuses, and in particular, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) caucus– this caucus helped to transform my experience with the organization by giving me a way to fit into the organization and to connect my work there to the work I was doing outside of the organization– for example, with Gay Shame Santa Cruz, Pride at Work, the Activism and Social Change program at New College, and GLBT college student organizing.
I worked with the caucus for two years and then took some time off from statewide CTA politics in order to work as a substitute paraprofessional (classroom aide) and substitute teacher in special education classes in San Francisco Unified School District. During this time, I became involved in substitute teacher and paraprofessional organizing. I ran for the executive board of the union in my second year and lost by 17 votes. During this time, I started at San Francisco State University in their MA in Equity and Social Justice in Education program. During my first semester, I wrote a paper about the history of GLBT caucuses in NEA, AFT, and CTA. Over the course of two years at SF State, I decided to narrow my focus to cover just the CTA GLBT Caucus. I also studied queer theory, queer pedagogy, and queer research methodology, and the influences of these three points of view will be seen throughout this thesis.
This thesis might be best viewed as my personal Bildungsroman. According to Suzanne Hader:
A Bildungsroman is, most generally, the story of a single individual’s growth and development within the context of a defined social order. The growth process, at its roots a quest story, has been described as both “an apprenticeship to life” and a “search for meaningful existence within society” (paragraph 2).
I see it as a Bildungsroman as it reflects the product of what has been an intense four years of exploration and change; in the process of my graduate education and the writing of this thesis I have grappled with my own personal identity and my academic and professional goals.
B. GLBT Teachers in Historical Context
Teaching has historically, at some points, been a favored profession for those whose sexuality differed from the norm. In the early years of public schooling in the United States, female teachers were expected to remain unmarried and often lived with other women. By the beginning of the 20th century, two thirds of the teaching workforce was composed of women. (Shannon, 2008). Male teachers became suspect for having entered a female-dominated profession. (Shannon, 2008; Catherine Lugg, 2003). At the same time, there were concerns that boys were being “sissified” by female teachers (Lugg). The sexuality of unmarried woman came under suspicion (ibid), eventually causing teaching to become the province of married women (Lugg). In the late 1940s, McCarthyism lead to the “repeated linkage of homosexuality with communism, hence the slur from the era, ‘commie pinko queer’” (Lugg, p. 107). As public fears intensified in the 1950s, Lugg elaborated, “state legislatures mandated that educational administrators and school boards remove suspected queer personnel” (p. 108). In Florida, a secretive state committee formed in 1956 to intimidate the NAACP and the civil rights movement then shifted focus in 1959 to investigate homosexual teachers. Graves described how the Florida Education Association supported the investigations and worked with the Investigation Committee in their purges. (At this time, the Florida Education Association was a member of the National Education Association, a professional organization that was generally in opposition to unionizing of teachers). As teachers began to gain collective bargaining rights in the 1960s and 1970s, teachers’ associations and unions became increasingly involved in controversies around gay teachers, but now more often in a supportive role. In 1972, for example, James Gaylord was dismissed by the Tacoma school board “on grounds of his alleged immorality” (Jackie Blount, p. 118). According to Jackie Blount, “…the Tacoma Federation of Teachers strongly supported him, bearing the expense of his legal defense, and even employing him following the case.”
“On June 14, 1977, with police escort,” John Briggs publicly announced a ballot initiative to ban gay and lesbian teachers from teaching in California (Blount, p. 135). He announced his measure in front of the San Francisco City Hall (!) in a carefully constructed public relations strategy. It was inspired by Anita Bryant’s successful 1977 campaign to repeal a gay rights ordinance in Dade County, Florida. The American Federation of Teachers came out against the initiative in October 1977 in a strongly worded statement; teachers’ unions, worried about the attack on the rights of teachers, were a significant force in the fight against the initiative (Blount).
In 1991, the National Education Association (of which the California Teachers Association is a state affiliate ), “formally recognized that sexual minority students experienced ‘great hostility and neglect’ in school environments” (Laura Szalacha, p. 59). Still, despite all the advances, “in the vast majority of American states, queer educators can be fired for their status, and they have no legal recourse” (Lugg, p. 117). In California, Pete Wilson in 1991 vetoed legislation protecting homosexuals against job discrimination but then reversed course and signed it into law in 1992 (Gross, 1992) This legislation was later strengthened in 1999 and a bill (AB 537) was also passed protecting students from discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity (California, 1999).
According to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (n.d), “Only 16 states and the District of Columbia have safe schools laws designed to protect students based on sexual orientation. Only 12 states and D.C. have such laws to protect students based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.” However, courts have started to rule in favor of students who were discriminated against even in the absence of explicit legislation (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network & National Center for Lesbian Rights, 2005). As of 2008, 16 states had laws protecting state employees (including teachers) from sexual orientation discrimination (Eckes and McCarthy, 2008). Some circuit courts have also started to rule in favor of teachers who suffer from a hostile working environment although decisions in other circuits have suggested that “school officials… may need to take only minimal steps to curtail harassment” (Eckes and McCarthy).
C. Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to explore how GLBT teachers and their allies collectively work to combat political underrepresentation of GLBT teachers in California educational policy. Specifically, this project involved a case study of the CTA GLBT Caucus. In this caucus, GLBT teachers and their allies meet four times a year in order to discuss common issues, endorse candidates, strategize, and find a way to advance their political agenda within the California Teachers Association.
There are four areas that I set out to explore in this study:
- Past history of the organization – how was the caucus formed? What were early years of the caucus like? How has the caucus’ purpose and self-definition changed over time?
- How has the caucus shaped CTA policy? (I restrict my attention to the caucuses’ impact on CTA policy because CTA caucuses do not take positions on external issues– rather, they work within CTA in order to elect candidates to internal CTA office, have GLBT friendly candidates for public office endorsed by the organization, to have the organization take GLBT friendly policy statements, and to have the organization take appropriate stands on legislation affecting GLBT people.)
- How do caucus members understand and represent their identities personally, within the caucus, and within the larger organization? What is the relationship between language, representation, and identity in the work of the caucus? How is language strategically deployed in the process? How can academic theories of social construction and essentialism illuminate aspects of the caucus’ work? What discursive frameworks do caucus members utilize when discussing the work of the caucus?
- What are some possible future directions for the caucus?
D. Need for the Study
Although there has been some research on the history of GLBT teachers in the United States (Blount, Graves), there has been no research on the internal politics of teachers’ unions around GLBT issues and no one has looked at the role of the GLBT caucuses in a systematic fashion. This study studied one of these caucuses in specific, the CTA GLBT caucus, in hopes of drawing attention to the role of these organizations within the unions. It served as an opportunity for caucus members to self-reflect on their own participation, as a guide to other activists hoping to study their own organizations, and as an example for researchers who are looking to explore these issues in their research. It also illuminated some of the growing explorations and threads of queer research methodology that have started to enter the literature.
Chapter II. Review of the Literature
There are three strands in the academic literature that are of particular relevance to this project. The first is the relationship that teachers’ unions have had to social justice. The second is a related strand about the organization of teachers into identity caucuses within teachers’ organizations. The third strand is about queer research methodology; this is not reviewed in this chapter and is instead explored in Chapter 3.
B. Relationship of Teachers’ Unions to Social Justice
According to Nina Bascia (2005), traditional research on teacher unionism “has viewed unions as not quite legitimate decision makers, at best benign or irrelevant but frequently obstructive, rarely visionary, and tending to promote mediocrity” (p. 594).
Cindy Rottman (2008) challenged that traditional view, suggesting that “historically, teachers’ associations, federations, societies, and unions have been some of the major organizational sites of social justice leadership in K-12 education” (p. 976). She sees existing research as falling into four categories: 1) “articulating their advocacy for a social justice teacher union movement,” 2)“charting the history of teacher unionism in ways that have been sensitive to issues of gender, race, class, and occupational subordination,” 3)“exploring the extent to which diverse groups of teachers feel represented by their unions,” and 4) “documenting instances of colletive activism on the part of particular teachers’ unions” (p. 976-77).
Peterson and Charney (1999) is Rottman’s example of a work advocating for a social justice teacher union movement. Peterson and Charney defined social justice unionism as consisting of three major components: “defending public education and the rights of teachers, a strong emphasis on professionalism, and a commitment to children and community” (p. 5).
Marjorie Murphy (1990), who comes from Rottmann’s second category, disagreed with Peterson and Charney’s ideas about professionalism. She saw the early teachers’ unions as having emerged in opposition to the efforts to centralize and professionalize education. She contends that those seeking to centralize and professionalize sought to create:
…an ideology that separated teachers from the community, reinforcing their differences from the communities they came from and making them the hirelings of a new superintendent of schools… Professionalization became a tool for totally reshaping the lines of authority in school administration, for weeding out those of less desireable ethnic and social origins… and for instilling a sense of loyalty not to the community, but to the school principal, superintendent, and educational professoriate (p. 23).
Murphy concluded this discussion by observing that “in the long run, as teachers embraced professionalism they lost political ground in the community” (p.45).
Rottman’s third category is about the extent to which diverse groups of teachers feel represented by their unions. Nina Bascia (1998, 2005) focuses on exploring the perspectives of teachers of various identities. Rottman’s fourth category focuses on particular instances of collective activism by teachers’ unions. This research can be illuminating and inspiring but fundamentally lacks the theoretical framework and historical perspective that will be necessary for the changes that activists would like to see in society and in their unions.
Rottman then expands her focus to look at the broader conceptions of social justice and uses them as a framework in order to explore teachers’ unions work for social justice. She offers four different social justice conceptions and classifies them by two attributes: material resources vs. identity and status, and consensus vs. conflict. Liberal Distribution (material resources, consensus) relies on inequity as being an “inevitable social condition” (p. 979) that can be partially ameliorated by more equitable distribution. An example of a liberal distribution goal for a teachers union is to “advocate for public education” (p. 996) in sort of a generic sense. Critical Distribution (material resources, conflict) relies on “productive use of conflict to replace unequal systems with equitable ones” (p. 979). An example of a critical distribution goal is to “protest privatization of education and other social services” (p. 996). Liberal Recognition (identity and status, consensus) relies on “recognizing and celebrating diversity” (p. 979); an example of this that she gave is to “develop optional social justice workshops, conferences, and other professional development opportunities focusing on diversity” (p. 996). Critical Recognition (identity and status, conflict) requires the “critique and protest of oppressive cultural norms followed by systemic action” (p. 980). An example of a critical recognition practice is to “build activist networks of teachers, students, and community members of under-represented groups to advocate for an increasingly democratic educational decision making structure” (p. 996). I use this as part of the framework in Chapter 4 in order to discuss the conceptions of social justice used by CTA.
C. Research into Educators’ Identity Caucuses
The National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have, due to organizing by their respective women’s caucuses, both taken a leadership role on women’s issues. Catherine Marshall (2002) used social capital theory to demonstrate how “teachers’ unions connected in webs of participation and shared values for collective action for social change” (p. 708) in their advocacy relating to gender equity policy in education. In particular, she explored the relationships between national activist organizations, the AFT and NEA’s Women’s Caucuses, the AFT and NEA, and federal and state gender equity policy. Her work relied on extensive interviews that capture the passion and spirit behind the women who “nurtured relationships and networks to become the social capital of the education gender equity policy movement” (p. 708).
Al-Tony Gilmore (2008) discussed the history of minority participation in the National Education Association with a focus on NEA’s minority presidents. In his discussion of the Oceanside-Brownsville controversy in New York, he elucidated the story of the first organized group to use the term ‘caucus’ within an NEA context:
One conference participant, Frank Wilderson of Minnesota, introduced himself as a member of NEA’s Black Caucus– the first time that term was ever used to identify an NEA constituency group– and advocated for ‘black youth, parents, and leaders’ to be a part of NEA’s decision making (p. 109).
His work, however, is a history of the minority presidents rather than a history of the caucuses, and the caucuses only rarely figure into his narrative.
Another study looking at educators’ identity caucuses focuses on the name of an educators’ caucus in the National Art Educators Association (NAEA). Kimberly Cosier, Laurel Lampela, Susan Marie de la Garnica, James Sanders, et al. (2005) used the format of a roundtable conversation in order to explore the issues around changing the NAEA “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Issues Caucus” to the “Queer Issues Caucus.” The article raises a number of key theoretical points, including the invisibility of lesbians in queer studies, the lack of representation of black homosexuals and bisexuals in the term “queer,” and questions of the divisions between higher education art educators and other practitioners of art education.
Overall, however, the research into educator’s caucuses is limited. The studies do not really explore the interconnections between caucuses. There is also little research focused specifically on the ethnic minority caucuses or GLBT caucuses, which represent a significant political force within teachers’ unions.
Chapter III: Methodology and Methods
A methodology, Robert Bogdan and Sari Biklen (1998) wrote, differs from methods in that methods are “specific techniques you use” while a methodology is “the general logical and theoretical perspectives for a research project” (p. 31). Traditionally, positivist social scientists have had a goal of objectivity. This positivist methodology, however, have been often used against people who did not fit the norm due to their gender or sexuality (Gamson, 2000).
Kenn Honeychurch (1996) suggested an alternative–that in order to have a queer perspective, researchers must reject paradigms in which the neutral observer comes to know an objective truth. Instead, to research from a queer perspective means to “embrace… a dynamic discursive position from which subjects of homosexualities can both name themselves and impact the conditions under which queer identities are constituted” (p. 342-343). ‘Queer’ as a term is laden with meaning, perhaps even overdetermined. Nikki Sullivan (2003) gives four historic definitions for queer: “to signify something strange” as in P. G. Wodehouse’s exclamation “What a queer thing Life is!”, “to refer to negative characteristics…that one associates with the self” as in Robert Owen’s remark “All the world is queer save thee and me, and even thou art a little queer”, “to denote one’s difference positively” as in “We’re here… we’re queer!,” and finally, “as a colloquial term for homosexuality” (p. v). Eve Sedgwick saw queer as opening up possibilities for gender and sexual identity and experience, suggesting that it may refer to:
pushy femmes, radical faeries, fantasists, drags, clones, leatherfolk, ladies in tuxedos, feminist women or feminist men, masturbators, bulldaggers, divas, Snap! Queens, butch bottoms, storytellers, transsexuals, aunties, wannabees, lesbian-identified men or lesbians who sleep with men, or […] people able to relish, learn from, or identity with such (cited in Johnson, 2005, p. 4).
A queer pedagogy, Susanne Luhmann suggests, “aims at an infinite proliferation of new identifications” (p. 151). These questions of identity and identification are central in taking a queer approach to research. Diana Fisher (2003) sees coming out as a strategy of identity management and control over one’s life rather than as a simple question of whether you are in or out of the closet. Even when studying a GLBT organization in which it is reasonable for me to be out as a gay man, there are still numerous questions about how I should present my identity. When the check-in question at a caucus meeting asks about your identity, should I say “gay” or “queer?” To what extent to I attempt to conceal my identity as a leatherman: obviously I wouldn’t wear leather cuffs or pants, but need I drop the leather jacket? The leather backpack? Should I, as a researcher, wear into a classroom or union meeting (as another paper of mine suggests) a “gold lame cocktail dress, black pumps with three inch stiletto heels, a raven wig, and a beaded cloche with peacock feathers” (wording borrowed from Scott Long, 1993, cited in Honeychurch, 1996, p. 348). Do I present myself as a paraprofessional (my current job), a substitute teacher (another current job) a graduate student (my current matriculation status), or as a researcher (one of my many aspirations)?
Identities have effects and consequences, and consequently I have had to reflect on and deconstruct my own identities. To be a “paraprofessional” in the California Teachers Association is to invoke a two decades long history of exclusion from the organization. To be a substitute teacher is to enter a space that is virtually absent from union discourse. To be a graduate student in education is to invoke a history of researchers mischaracterizing and misinterpreting educators’ everyday work. To be a leatherman doing educational research is to invoke fears and stereotypes of gay men as pedophiles, child molesters, and perverts who are seeking to recruit youth into an immoral lifestyle.
This spectre of “recruitment” haunts gay and queer men working in the field of education. S. Anthony Thompson ( in discussing support services for gay and bisexual students with intellectual disabilities) wondered if “perhaps reluctance to recruit is simply internalized homophobia” (2007, p. 49) and if we are failing to offer the necessary support to disabled people who wish to fashion queer identities because of our own fears. A similar problem arises in the leather scene– I attended a workshop in 2008 about the inclusion of younger people into the leather scene, and the young adults presenting were very careful to emphasize that they were only talking about educating those over the age of 18 because to address the question of young people under 18 might have legal complications. Many adults hesitate to provide needed support services and education to sexual minority minors (as well as adults with disabilities!) because of the potential of being accused of “recruiting.”
Continuing my work of deconstruction: To be a gay man, particularly in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, is to invoke a history of racial, class, and gender exclusion. As one button on display at the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society stated: “CASTRO- Classist, Ageist, Sexist, Transphobic, Racist, and Outdated–” demonstrating longstanding grievances from those who are marginalized from the primarily white gay male neighborhood. Claiming an identity without a critical analysis “slide[s] into claims of essential difference, [thus] neglecting to critically examine the social context in which they are formed,” warns Cris Mayo (2007, p. 84). Queer pedagogy may call for an infinite proliferation of identities, but it doesn’t obviate the need for critical reflection about what identities I choose to adopt.
Janet Jakobsen, however, suggests that queer theorists must move beyond simply looking at identity and “complete the Foucauldian move from human being to human doing” (1998, p. 516). Jakobsen, borrowing from Spivak (1977, 1988) observes a tension in Michel Foucault’s work between the idea of simply illuminating historical alternatives without endorsement and a desire for resistance. This sort of tension, she observes, is common in queer theory as theorists attempt but fail to reconcile “radical critique[s] of subjectivity” with “resistance” (p. 514) and end up with unsatisfactory appeals to “strategic essentialism,” which is the notion that one must provisionally claim an identity for political purposes even if the identity is not satisfactory from a theoretical level.
Foucault, however, did not necessarily see the critique of subjectivity and resistance as incompatible. In a lecture of 7 January 1976, he suggests that a genealogy “should be seen as a kind of attempt to emancipate historical knowledges from that subjection, to render them, that is, capable of opposition and of struggle against the coercion of a theoretical, unitary, formal and scientific discourse” (1980, p. 90). A week later, he showed how power constitutes individuals: “it is already one of the prime effects of power that certain bodies, certain gestures, certain discourses, certain desires, come to be identified and constituted as individuals” (p. 96). When asked in 1983 if the “Greeks offered an attractive an plausible alternative” he said:
No! I am not looking for an alternative; you can’t find the solution of a problem in the solution of another problem raised at another moment by other people. You see, what I want to do is not the history of solutions, and that’s the reason why I don’t accept the word alternative. I would like to do the genealogy of problems, of problematiques. My point is not that everything is bad, but that everything is dangerous, which is not exactly the same as bad. If everything is dangerous, then we always have something to do. So my position leads not to apathy but to a hyper- and pessimistic activism (p. 343).
Jakobsen interpreted this to mean that “power simultaneously produces possibility and subjugation, that every action carries particular dangers … thus actualizing bodies and pleasures is precisely the type of activity that enters into the complexities of simultaneous resistance and elaboration, or what might be called the complications of embodiment” (p. 515).
In order to find a way to move beyond strategic essentialism in order to conceptualize these more complex notions of queer, Jakobsen, made an important linguistic shift in order to move from “human being to human doing.” She observed the differences between queer as a noun and as a verb– the verb, to queer, “suggesting the work of queering, of acting in relation, opposition, or resistance to the norm” (p. 517). Mary Bryson and Suzanne de Castelle similarly pull out their copy of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary and find: “Queer: verb– to spoil, put out of order, to put into an embarrassing or disadvantageous situation” (1993, From “Queer Theory” to Queer Pedagogy, paragraph 4). They suggest that:
“…A worthwhile avenue for the elucidation of a queer praxis might be to consider the value of an actively queerying pedagogy–of queering its technics and scribbling graffiti over its texts, of colouring outside of the lines so as to deliberately take the wrong route on the way to school–going in an altogether different direction than that specified by a monologic destination” (paragraph 5)
Honeychurch implored queer researchers to “mobilize an interrogative objection to the epistemological, methodological, and textual assumptions and stipulations of compulsory heterosexualized discourse” (p. 340). He wants queer researchers to challenge “what may be known, who may be the knower, and how knowledge has come to be generated and circulated” (p. 342), to, in his words, “position themselves through both authoring and authorizing experience,” “to name themselves and impact the conditions under which queer identities are constituted” (p. 343). In considering these issues, researchers find themselves performing what Patti Lather (1986) calls “openly ideological research.”
Lather (1986) cited Reinharz (1985)’s contention that “since interest-free knowledge is logically impossible, we should feel free to substitute explicit interests for implicit ones” (Lather, p. 63). Lather contends that “research which is openly value- based is neither more nor less ideological than is mainstream positivist research” (p.64). She wonders, then, how you might recast traditional positivist notions of validity in a way that you can have rigorous, trustworthy data. In doing so, she spells out four criteria for validity: triangulation, construct validity, face validity, and catalytic validity.
Triangulation, Lather argues, should be “expanded beyond the psychometric definition” to “include multiple data sources, methods, and theoretical schemes” (p. 67). Construct validity, she suggests, requires that researchers revise our theories based on the data that we collect. Face validity, she suggests, goes beyond the traditional idea of checking the data with the respondents in order to include “recycling analysis back through at least a subsample of respondents” (p. 67). Catalytic validity, an idea that she borrows from Reason & Rowan (1981) and Brown & Tandom (1978), is probably the most intriguing idea in this piece of hers. She suggests that a primary measure of the validity of a study is the “degree to which the research process re-orients, focuses, and energizes participants,” enabling them to “know reality in order to better transform it.” This question of catalytic validity is something that I grappled with throughout the design of the study, the question being how best to incorporate these dimensions without raising red flags in the Institutional Review Board approval process.
Given that I critically engage my own experiences as well as the experiences of others in this study, it raises some methodological questions. Is “auto-ethnography” a legitimate form of inquiry within educational research? Many qualitative researchers believe it is more fruitful to study contexts in which you do not have personal familiarity. The educational research methodology known as portraiture involves the relation of one’s personal experiences in regards to an organization, but generally one to be coming from an outsider’s perspective in order to create the desired synergistic effects. Within the broader field of queer studies, however, there is more openness to the notion of self-study as a valid research methodology. Fisher (2003) wrote about a gay and lesbian Russian immigrants organization that she was personally involved with and suggested that writing about one’s own world involved more “personal vulnerability and accountability” than writing about someone else’s world (p. 175). Gina Masequesmay (2003) wrote about the organization that she facilitated for Vietnamese lesbians. Lorin Schwarz (2009) used auto-ethnography to study his own life and reminded researchers that “with the acknowledgment that the researcher is subjective and human, comes the need for a possibility of a heartfelt engagement– indeed, for heart itself.” It is with these factors in mind that I embarked upon my study.
Having been a participant in the caucus and a member of a teachers’ union for five years, I have essentially been “doing research” for this project the entire time. Before beginning the formal study, however, I met with the membership of the caucus in order to discuss my goals for the study. The research questions were formulated based on my personal knowledge and experiences with the caucus.
Three primary data sources were used for this study: observations of caucus meetings in 2009-2010, interviews with members of the caucus in early 2010, and my own personal experiences in attending caucus meetings in the period 2005-2007. I formally observed two caucus meetings and interviewed three members of the caucus. Findings were analyzed according to the study research questions.
Chapter IV. Study Findings
A. First Observation
I arrived early Friday afternoon for the October 2010 State Council meeting. I volunteered with the interview committee, which recommends to the GLBT Caucus which candidates to endorse in the CTA internal elections. The interviews themselves are confidential, so I won’t remark on them here. The meeting of the entire GLBT Caucus began at 9:05pm. It was chaired by the female co-chair, an African American woman named Eleanor Evans. They started by discussing the first ever CTA GLBT conference which had been put on the weekend before. At this GLBT-themed conference, there were 207 attendees, and they received nothing but positive feedback. One man came in late to the caucus meeting, and the interview committee chair (Lisa Buckner) jokingly said, “Strolling in late… thinking it’s okay to be on gay time.” The man replied with a campy tone, “Isn’t this the gay caucus?” The committee chair quickly replied in her characteristic style, “It is now!” and everybody (especially me!) laughed.
The caucus then considered the endorsement recommendations from the Interview committee. The candidates scored relatively low numerically in the interviews, and one man stood up and made a speech urging the caucus not to devalue its endorsement. Someone else felt that they were failing to educate people appropriately. Another man said, “We’ve gone past the point of educating our members; they should be educated by now.” One candidate had responded to a question about how they conceptualized the GLBT community in terms of a minority by saying that she thought that “you guys throw the best parties–” people were divided on that– some feeling that it was indeed true, while others feeling like it was stereotypical and offensive. At one point when debating about whether or not we should reveal the numerical scores, the co-chair said, “The other caucuses don’t reveal their numbers” to which Lisa Buckner replied, “We like to be revealing” resulting in yet another round of laughter.
The caucus then convened into subcommittees. I attended the membership subcommittee, which was composed of me and Matthew Bateson, the ethnic minority representative for Student CTA. He was elected subcommittee chair. At the end of the meeting, each subcommittee reported. The legislation subcommittee has the goal of “keeping abreast of legislation” so the running joke is that the committee chair emphasizes her breasts while stating this goal. I was talking about this with a caucus member who laughed and said they cannot hear the word abreast– in any context– without remembering this joke and laughing. Having heard the joke five times previous, I eagerly anticipated hearing it again; in this hearing it, I experienced a pleasure of familiarity, the sense that I was “in on the joke,” and a feeling of connection to something larger than myself.
B. Second observation
I observed a second caucus meeting on January 29, 2010. Copies of the caucus’ newsletter were distributed, entitled “Agenda: A Newsletter of the GLBT-CTA Caucus.” When members of the GLBT Issues Advisory Committee were introduced, they mistakenly forgot to mention a lesbian member of the caucus. She quipped, “Am I chopped liver?” A gay man in the group jokingly replied, “You’re so sensitive!” which not surprisingly elicited laughter.
There was discussion about a teacher who had contacted a CTA Board member looking for information about how her 21 year old transgender son could become a teacher. They asked people to forward any resources that they had. I suggested to the student CTA member sitting next to me that they sign him up for Student CTA, and they agreed that that sounded like a good idea.
People related various experiences of transgender teachers who had lost their jobs or were no longer teaching. The meeting was then opened up for people to talk about issues at their local schools. At one school, for example, the athletes in the Christian club were in conflict with their Gay Straight Alliance, and the administration and faculty were handling the issue incompetently. At another high school, a Republican club was taking anti-gay stances with the club’s President being interviewed by national conservative media. In a large urban district, teachers were organizing around the issue of unsafe working environment– particularly having to hear anti-gay hate speech while on the job with the administration refusing to take action.
Seat arrangements for the GLBT Dinner at the upcoming National Education Association Representative Assembly were discussed. One caucus member remarked in a stereotypical gay accent, “I want to sit next to somebody beautiful please;” another remember replied jokingly, “You’re next to Eleanor” (the caucus co-chair) and everyone laughed.
I also attended the California Teachers Association Civil Rights in Education committee meeting the following day (See Section E for a description of CTA organizational structure). The Equity and Human Rights subcommittee invited Priscilla Winslow from CTA Legal to speak with the subcommittee about the issue of hostile work environment. A caucus member (not a CRE member) has been attending the subcommittee meeting in order to discuss the issue of hostile work environment. She hears student-to-student anti-gay language but her administration will not take action, claiming “they don’t really mean that.” Winslow presented some possible strategies and discussed the possibility of having a formal advisory issued by CTA Legal.
One young woman of color, new to this committee and seemingly frustrated by the focus on GLBT issues, asked if this was the only issue the subcommittee worked on. The subcommittee chair replied that the subcommittee worked on many issues but that this item had been pending so long that they were spending the entire hour on this one issue for this particular meeting. Another man of color asked about my work and was disappointed that I was only interested in the GLBT Hostile Work Environment issue as he was concerned about hostile work environment in general and was working on organization the Support Cadre Resisting Administrative Maltreatment (SCRAM). I was rather flabbergasted that the two of them did not see the relationship between their own issues and the issues of GLBT people. When one looks at the actual record of the GLBT caucus in regards to ethnic minority issues, however, it perhaps makes more sense. George Sheridan observed that there is a lot of room for improvement in the caucuses work with ethnic minority issues:
Over the number of years I’ve been active in the caucus there have been few people who were actively identified with an ethnic minority caucus who were also actively involved in the GLBT caucus. There have been times that secondhand I have heard about tensions of people in the ethnic minority caucuses feeling that the GLBT caucus was kind of trying to get credibility by saying that the issues were the same or similar but not really feeling the connection. I think there have been several times that there’s been discussion in the GLBT caucus about a need for outreach and some effort for outreach but it– from my personal perspective– it hasn’t felt like it was a sustained commitment.
This question of the caucuses’ relationship to issues of ethnic minorities and the ethnic minority caucuses are taken up again in section G of this chapter.
C. The interviews
I informally interviewed Bruce Williams and Eric Heins in December of 2007 for a paper I was writing for a final project in a class on Equal Opportunity in Education. For this project, I interviewed Lynne Formigli on January 20, 2010, Mark Galipeau on February 12, 2010, and George Sheridan on March 17, 2010.
I viewed the interviews as an opportunity for a discussion between me and various leaders of the caucus about the work that they have done in the caucus, their past experiences, and what directions they saw the caucus going in. I initially thought that I might use something closer to an oral history format, but it turns out that an oral history is a very particular type of historical tool that requires resources and time far beyond the scope of a Master’s thesis. I still chose, however, to append these interviews to the thesis to serve as a first attempt at recording and writing down our stories as GLBT educators working on our issues within our unions.
I interviewed Bruce Williams and Eric Heins in December of 2007 about the history of the CTA GLBT Caucus while working on a paper about GLBT Caucuses in Teachers’ Unions as the final paper for a course on Equal Opportunity in Education.
It is not clear when the CTA GLBT (or at the time, the CTA Gay and Lesbian) Caucus was first started; probably sometime in the late 80’s (Bruce Williams, personal communication, December 19, 2007). According to the 1994-95 male co-chair of the caucus, Bruce Williams (personal communication, December 14, 2007), when he first started attending CTA’s State Council, Nancy Bailey from the California Faculty Association was in charge of the caucus. (The California Faculty Assocation (CFA), the organization of California state University (CSU) Professors and Lecturers, is an affiliate of the California Teachers Association, which includes teachers from Pre-K through University). She would stand up and speak publicly for the caucus, but in fact it was loosely organized and really just her and a few people.
By 1994-95, Nancy standing up became Nancy and Bruce speaking out (as the co-chairs of the caucus), and in fact they had a fairly significant organization behind them. According to Eric Hines (personal communication, December 18, 2007), Nancy was known for standing up on the floor of the State Council and loudly announcing over the microphone, “I’m Nancy, the dyke from Bakersfield.” She would then nod towards Bruce and state, “and there’s Bruce, the faggot from UTLA.” She was very much into that sort of dramatic humor. Around this time, the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Issues Advisory Committee (GLBTIAC) was formed.
The CTA caucus over time became very active in the CTA process. They would meet on Friday night to organize and set an agenda, then meet on Saturday night to work on strategy for the Sunday State Council general session in the morning and evening. The general session is the meeting of the full Council where the proposals from the Saturday committee meetings are debated, discussed, and voted on. (Bruce Williams) They had 20-25 people attending on a regular basis.
Lynne Formigli said that in her first year in the caucus the caucus discussed changing the name from the Gay and Lesbian caucus to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender caucus. She recalled that the change was not initiated by bisexual and transgender teachers who were feeling excluded. Rather, people were thinking more along the lines of “change the name and they will come.” Unfortunately, she believed, there are not many transgender teachers and then of them, few are elected to State Council. (interview, Jan 20, 2010). There was one transgender teacher in the caucus that I met two years ago, but I am told that he is no longer in the teaching profession.
E. CTA Policy
Popular representations of teachers’ unions have asserted that they are being run by “union bosses” that decide where teachers’ dues go and what teachers advocate for. Some examples of this discourse that I retrieved from the Internet on March 30, 2010 included the following: a youtube video entitled “CER’s Jeanne Allen vs. Teachers Union Boss” (Fox News, 2010), an article “Greedy Detroit Union Boss threatens firings” (Riedel, 2009), and a reference to “Teachers‘ Unions: Deep-Pocketed Protectors of Mediocrity” in a book called Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members.
In reality, teachers’ unions in the United States have intricate democratic processes for decision-making. The National Education Association (NEA) has an annual Representative Assembly (RA) which delegates from around the country attend; it is said to be one of the largest democratic decision-making conventions in the world. Mark Galipeau (interview, February 12, 2010) noted that his first experiences with the GLBT caucus were at an NEA RA and that having been closeted in his previous profession, seeing out GLBT leadership within CTA and NEA was a powerful experience as someone who was considering becoming a teacher.
In the California Teachers Association, the State Council is the governing body of the association. Delegates are elected by each local based on their membership numbers; smaller locals are a part of what is called a “multiple” where one representative could represent as many as a half-dozen local unions. (Two of the members that I interviewed, Mark Galipeau and George Sheridan, serve in State Council seats that represent multiple locals). Generally local unions cover one school district, so that could range from two-dozen teachers to thousands of teachers. Delegates serve three year terms, with a term limit of three terms. These delegates convene four times a year over a weekend to set policy and elect officers for the association. Delegates are appointed to one State Council committee to serve on for the year, with the option of continuing on their committee or switching committees at the end of the year.
CTA has policy positions which are established and set by State Council. Policy positions made by unions are important to unions’ social justice work; as Marshall observed, “Both AFT and NEA have policies that emerge from their local and state representatives as well as from their national organizations” (p. 713). There is a policy manual, updated each year, that reflects policy on a wide range of issues related to California students, teachers, and the education system. Each State Council committee has a policy subcommittee, which makes a recommendation to the entire committee. State Council committees meet for four to five hours on Saturday and make policy recommendations to a plenary session on Sunday. These policies represent CTA’s stance on issues to the public and serve as a guide for locals in collective bargaining with their school districts.
Collective bargaining in California’s K-12 schools and community colleges was instituted with the passage of the Educational Employee Relations Act of 1976. PERB: EERA). This act defines a process by which school districts and employee organizations negotiate a contract, and what happens when this process breaks down– fact-finding, mediation, striking, and unfair labor practice charges. It also defines a public agency, the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB), to oversee the act. CTA offers advice to local organizations engaged in bargaining, and expert CTA negotiators will often participate in negotiations between local associations and their school districts.
CTA Policy is also the basis for CTA legislative positions that are taken by the organization. Policy must first exist before the organization can take a position. Lobbyists for CTA select legislation that is of potential interest to the organization. The legislation is forwarded to the legislation subcommittee of the appropriate State Council committee. In conjunction with the Legislative Committee, they make a recommendation to the State Council committee. This committee then makes a recommendation to the State Council floor, where the CTA position on the legislation is voted in. State Council members also vote on the floor to donate to and endorse or oppose candidates for state and local office, representing a significant political force both statewide and locally; as Marshall notes, “always contributing more to Democrats than Republicans” (p. 714).
The work of the caucus has had a significant impact not only on CTA policy, but also on CTA practice. (personal conversation, Bruce Williams) Trainings have been mandated for locals on GLBT issues. A network of gay-friendly voices was established to answer questions and address issues. The CTA Negotiations & Organizational Development office offers model language and resources for locals that wish to cover GLBT issues in their contract negotiations. A motion offered by members of the Gay and Lesbian caucus in ’94-’95 directed CTA to bargain with its professional staff union, the California Staff Organization (CSO), to develop domestic partner benefits. Around the same time the Breaking the Silence curriculum was also developed by CTA (personal conversation, Eric Hines). Breaking the Silence is a training about discrimination, harassment, and bullying that is offered to CTA locals and service center councils. Breaking the Silence is a there hour workshop that is offered as a part of CTA’s High-Risk program, which also includes Gang Intervention, Child Abuse & Neglect, Teen Suicide, and Self Esteem. According to program literature:
This training will provide participants with strategies for reducing hostilities towards gay and lesbian students and learn ways to create a safe free learning environment for all students. In addition, participants will learn what their Chapters and Service Centers can do to promote tolerance and understanding of these issues. (California Teachers Association, n.d.).
George Sheridan saw a teacher’s own individual process as being on a continuum from ignorance to awareness to becoming an advocate. He believed that the Breaking the Silence program is an important part of what CTA can do to help educators move along that continuum (interview, March 17, 2010).
Which of Rottman’s conceptions of social justice (from Chapter 2) are the most evident in the work of the caucus? CTA (GLBTIAC) has a know your legal rights pamphlet that relies heavily on a liberal recognition model by providing information about legal rights and laws that protect teachers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. A liberal approach relies on centralized accountability structures rather than on collective challenging of the system. Other efforts of CTA and the caucus straddle the border between critical and liberal recognition. The GLBT Issues conference, for example, utilized both the model of liberal recognition in terms of promoting equal rights for everyone but also was a reflection of the more critical oriented agenda which insists on the importance of increasing the formal role of the GLBT caucus and GLBTIAC within the larger organization.
Some efforts seem to fall squarely in the critical recognition paradigm. For example, the caucus has had meetings over the years with leaders from organizations such as the GSA Network (an organization of/for middle and high school students are in Gay/Straight Alliances at their schools) and California Safe Schools Coalition (which works on issues of GLBT student and teacher safety in public schools) in order to discuss how to build a broader and more effective statewide movement for GLBT rights within education. Lynne Formigli had concerns about having guest speakers in general, but they were more based on practical rather than theoretical concerns:
It’s really cool when we can get speakers in. Again, it’s a challenge; we used to do– When I first became a member we had two meetings. We had a friday night meeting and we had Saturday at 5 o’clock. When you have two meetings like that you have more time to get stuff done. When you have a speaker it can be more difficult because you also have to get all the caucus business done and so because we’re always having the time issue… our caucus meetings start at 9 at night and most of the people in the room have taught a full day, have worked a full day, gotten on a plane or gotten in the car and traveled a fair distance, some more than others, and arrive and they’re in a hotel and they’re checking in and they’ve got a long weekend ahead of them and they’ve got to get up early the next day and the meetings can go to midnight. That’s hard. That’s asking a lot of people. It is really cool when we have speakers that come and address and we have special events and that’s cool but again when we’re doing something like that you always have to be cognizant of people’s time and respectful of that. So that’s my perspective on that– more of a logistical one than a content one I guess.
The sense, though, is that there is a broader movement for justice inside and outside of the organization rather than just top-down efforts at diversity coming from an organizational bureaucracy. These networks include students, community members, parents, and teachers that are fighting for these issues.
Rottmann observed that “workshops, conferences, and other professional development opportunities… are considerably more extensive than discrete anti-oppression groups with organizational decision-making authority” (p. 998). To some degree, the Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee and GLBT Issues Advisory Committee have some decision making authority and and a limited budget but must annually justify their budgets and programs, resulting in what Rottman is concerned about, namely that:
In contrast to the guaranteed annual support for advocacy related to teacher welfare and teacher professionalism, material support for social justice work depends on annual justifications of its worth…as such, it remains on the periphery of union activism, even within those organizations that self-identify as social justice unions (p. 998)
This limits CTA’s ability to effectively do critical social justice work.
F. Language, Identity, and Representation
What it means to have a gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender identity is a question that has (in various forms) concerned scholars, activists, and researchers since the 1800s. In 1864, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs coined the term Uranismus (also known as Uranian) to refer to homosexuality, of which he had several different types and classifications (P.J. Nash & Michael Lombardi-Nash, 2010) The caucus often has to contend with these questions– as a caucus, they are seen as a minority group with specific interests within the organization. In order for a candidate to be elected to office within CTA, they need to garner endorsement from as many of these small caucuses as possible in order to show they have a broad range of support. I participated in the candidate interview process for the GLBT Caucus on five occasions, and although that process is confidential, I observed that it entailed some very challenging discussions about what it meant to be a GLBT person, the nature of our identity, and our visions for our community.
There is a process for having a caucus recognized by the CTA. Caucuses are based on some shared identity, such as: ethnicity, political party, gender, urban or rural status, or shared vision for the organization. A list of current caucuses is in Appendix 2. Mark Galipeau, one of the current caucus co-chairs, raised in an interview a concern that the GLBT caucus was “not receiving its due as a caucus on par with the ethnic minority caucuses because of the (3)(1)(g) rule within NEA” (interview, Feb 12, 2010). The (3)(1)(g) rule requires state delegations to the NEA convention to reflect the ethnic diversity within their state, a goal that is virtually impossible given the lack of racial diversity within California’s teaching force and the growing ethnic diversity within the state. As a result, CTA is required to prepare an annual (3)(1)(g) report about how they will increase ethnic minority participation in the organization, which has the ethnic minority caucuses as a central component. These requirements, George Sheridan believes, come out of the negotiations from the merger between the national African-American teachers association, the American Teachers Association (ATA) and the National Education Association. As Sheridan observed, they “didn’t want to simply be swallowed up and disappear” (interview, March 17, 2010) and so ATA leadership fought hard to have these kind of rules put into place during the merger.
The broader question of whether GLBT persons are an ethnic minority is raised by Eve Sedgwick in her seminal work, The Epistemology of the Closet. She proposed a dichotomy between two different ways of conceptualizing homosexuality:
The first is the contradiction between seeing the homo/heterosexual definition on the one hand as an issue of active importance primarily for a small, distinct, relatively fixed homosexual minority (what I refer to as a minoritizing view), and seeing it on the other hand as an issue of continuing, determinative importance in the lives of people across the spectrum of sexualities (what I refer to as an universalizing view (p. 1).
The caucus and the broader movements for GLBT rights in education do not necessarily choose either “minoritizing” or “universalizing.” One one hand, the caucus uses a “minoritizing” frame when they advocate for practices such as a GLBT checkbox on the CTA membership form similar to the ethnicity checkboxes or to be recognized on par with the ethnic minority caucuses when it comes to efforts to recruit GLBT people to participate in the union. On the other hand, the caucus (and the broader safe schools movement) utilize a “universalizing” frame when they advocate for laws protecting students and teachers from discrimination based on “actual or perceived” orientation and gender identity. AB 537, the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000, was originally numbered AB 222, for the 22.2% of California high school students who reported homophobic harassment– far more than the estimated number of GLBT-identified high school students. District and state implementation of AB 537 works to protect all students from homophobic and gender-based harassment and discrimination, not just those identifying as GLBT– thus opening up possibilities for all students to be creative with their gender and sexual self-representation.
Another way of looking at the difference between “minoritizing” and “universalizing” is to compare it to the dichotomy between “accommodations” and “universal design” when it comes to disabilities. An accommodation is for a specific individual with a specific disability. For example, a student with a learning disability in higher education might request as an accommodation that the teacher provide a copy of the PowerPoint slides before a lecture so the student could preview what would be studied. Universal design means making systemic changes to classroom practice that benefit all students, including those with disabilities. In a universal design paradigm, all students might have access to the lecture and the teacher might discuss different ways in which this tool could be used to study effectively. Another example: An accommodation that I generally request for my disability is to have the ability to take breaks as needed from class. In an universal design paradigm, teachers might encourage all students to self-monitor their cognitive and emotional status and to learn to take breaks from class as needed.
Debates about minoritizing and universalizing frames naturally lead to discussion about identity. Some theorists find a coherent identity to be problematic–as Mary Bryson and Suzanne De Castell (1993) remind us, in queer scholarship, “Carnival, transgression, and parody are in, and essentialist appeals to an unproblematized or coherent identity are out.” The campy humor common in present-day caucus meetings (“we like to be revealing,” “keeping abreast of issues,” being on gay time”) and Nancy Bailey’s flamboyant floor style are both examples of this notion of queer. I asked Lynne Formigli about this style of humor, and she observed: “Part of what defines us is our sexuality, and so many times there’s lots of jokes about that. It’s just kind of fun. It’s part of the culture of the caucus that we joke around a lot and are comfortable with that.”
However, other theorists, such as E. Patrick Johnson asked questions such as “… what is the utility of queer theory on the front lines, in the trenches, on the street, or anyplace where the racialized and sexualized body is beaten, starved, fired, cursed—indeed, where the body is the site of trauma?” (p. 5). Mary Bryson in her piece “Me/no lesbian” challenged us with a question:
What does it mean to carry out a deconstructive ontological project within a realm that looks to me, like a battlefield littered with wounded bodies and people with men and women who have put their lives, careers, family affiliations and the like on the line just for the right to lay claim, and proudly, to lesbian or gay identity? (p.376)
A gay teacher of color who spoke at a GLBT caucus discussion has had his classroom broken into by students of similar ethnicity and vandalized with homophobic slurs written on his computer and his whiteboard. He lives in a climate of fear, afraid to speak up for fear that his administrator will deny his transfer application and prevent him from leaving the school. There is a time and a place for Luhmann’s “infinite proliferation of new identifications” (Luhmann, p. 151) but the teacher of color (and I) would probably settle for just a transfer away from the school in question. Experiences like his are what led me to believe that is important to have a queer theory grounded in materialist values.
G. Future Directions
My second year on State Council, 2006-2007, I remember sitting in a subcommittee meeting in the corner with some GLBT Caucus members that were wondering what the future role for the caucus would be. There was a time where CTA taking a stance on a GLBT issue was seen as a bold move– now it is merely a routine part of business. An out gay, latino man was recently elected as CTA President. CTA donated over two million dollars to fight the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8. What used to be seen as a special-interest gay agenda is now considered a basic part of human rights.
So, the caucus members asked me, as a relatively new student member, where I saw the caucus heading. I thought to my experiences with Gay Shame and wondered about taking positions on the relationship of capitalism and oppression to gay issues, reminiscent of perhaps the Gay Liberation Front in the late ’60s and early ’70s in the United States and United Kingdom. But what might be trendy and exciting in San Francisco did not really translate well to the caucus members I was speaking with and I lacked a way to properly articulate it. When I suggested that we work on issues of capitalism, the reply was, well, that’s the purpose of the Peace and Justice caucus. What I really wanted to suggest, I think, is that we take a uniquely queer perspective on social justice, but again, the language and ability to articulate that desire did not really exist.
There were five areas, however, that came up in the interviews as important future directions for the caucus. These were: building connections with the ethnic minority caucuses, forging stronger ties with Student CTA, building GLBT leadership within the association at large, working with local unions and Service Center Councils in order to ensure that schools are safe for all students, and building a stronger relationship with the GLBT Issues Advisory Committee.
In all of the interviews, there was a clear desire to build connections with ethnic minority caucuses. Jakobsen worried, however, that invocation of a desire to ally with other movements “rarely seemed to produce alliances in their embodied form” and that “invocation might be more of a block than an inducement to action” (p. 511). Caucus members’ perspectives, however, are shaped by a history of coalition work within the organization—for example, caucus members at one meeting observed how Lynette Henley, a prominent African-American leader within association, often spoke out in favor of the GLBT caucus’ positions in the early years of the caucus . George Sheridan, however, related to me that:
The basic point that I’ve been making is that my feeling is that the relationship has not been as close as I think it could be and it should be and I think some of that has been on the part of caucus members who have not kind of made the commitment to the organizing that it takes to build a solid ongoing relationship.
Having experienced firsthand the interview process by which the caucus endorses candidates, I was concerned about the number of CTA officer candidates who did not seem familiar with GLBT issues and discussed this in the interview with Lynne Formigli (January 20, 2010). She observed, “It makes you have to stop and realize, for example, what are the issues of the African American community that I am completely unaware of? What are the issues within the Asian community that I am just completely unfamiliar with?” (ibid). She believed, however, that when we work in coalition, we learn to trust that between all of us, we will be aware of all the issues and “hopefully it will work out okay” (ibid). She also described a lengthy facilitated conversation on race that the caucus had where they engaged in self-exploration and examination around these issues. Mark Galipeau noted that he has been going to the women’s caucus meetings and that caucus members “need to [also] branch out… to reach into the ethnic minority caucuses and have conversations about queer issues within the context of the ethnic minority community because our issues are their issues as well because we have people of color that are LGBT identified.” (interview, February 10, 2010). To let them know about our issues because they are their issues and to learn about their issues because they are our issues; this more than just a call for alliance politics but rather a powerful statement about the interconnection of identities and the limitations of identity politics.
It remains to be seen, however, how successful the caucus will be at doing this. Lynne Formigli had some ideas about this:
So many people said it that its hard for any of us to reach out to new people because many of us are inherently shy in the first place. I’ve thought about it since then and I think that sometimes that that’s something that society– part of the pressure of society on our subgroup – it’s one of the byproducts, the effects – that there’s this pressure to stay hidden. And it’s difficult to be out. There’s a subtle message that there’s something wrong with you somehow. And so I think for many people if you are gay, as a result of the lives they’ve lived up to that point and the pressures of society and the messages they’ve been getting– it’s harder for people to be outgoing and to go up to people and say, “Hey, welcome, it’s good to have you here, tell me a little bit about yourself.” We have to make an effort to do that and it’s extremely important to do because we often do feel isolated and a big part of what the caucus provides is that sense of security and a place of belonging that’s so very very valuable.
It is important, though, not to forget to examine institutional and individual racism and bias– perhaps we are shy and hesistant to reach out to newcomers but at the same time the lack of diversity in the caucus points to a specifically racialized character of the challenge in recruitment, as George Sheridan observed:
Over the number of years I’ve been active in the caucus there have been few people who were actively identified with an ethnic minority caucus who were also actively involved in the GLBT caucus.
Another potential future direction for the caucus is an increased connection with Student CTA. There were two members of Student CTA who were very active and engaged with the caucus– one of them was appointed a subcommittee chair at the first meeting that I formally observed. When I was involved with Student CTA, we were discouraged from attending caucuses my first year. My second year, I worked with the Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee to require each member of our committee to attend caucus meetings and got permission and approval of the leadership in order to do so. The Student CTA membership has continued to be supportive of members attending ethnic minority, the GLBT Caucus, and the women’s caucus (personal communication, S. Chance Carrico, May 3, 2010).
SCTA could play an important role in developing GLBT leadership within the association at large. Mark Galipeau related how, as a student member, he was mentored by others in the association:
The support that I received as a student member and mentorship from other people directly within the caucus to be involved was quite involving or empowering to get involved… Because the caucus was there as a student member, and many of the CTA State caucus members were also very active in the National scene, I knew quite a few of those people or several of those people through the NEA RA caucus meetings and the annual dinner they had so that gave me an insight having met them there to come and be a regular party to the Caucus meetings and events that were going on at State Council. Marc Sternberger and Eric Heins are two of the people come to mind as people I recall in those early days of my experience.
Mark believed that mentorship and leadership development were an important role of the caucus:
We’ve seen to have taken our queer activism and being able to use that as a mechanism to rise to higher leadership positions within the organization: being appointed to the Equity and Human Rights conference or working our way up through the organization to affect policy decisions and to be a public face within the organization as leaders.
He related his own experience in getting to know Eric Heins and Marc Sternberger as mentors:
Seeing them as gay men who were not only committed to LGBT issues but also strong, powerful leaders in uniting all their members as President and Co-President of Pittsburg Education Association and the struggle they were going through for their members in that city with contract negotiations… in addition to balancing that with their professional career as teachers in the classroom was quite inspiring. Like, wow, you can do all this? And really set the model for me for what I’m doing now as the President. It was really amazing to see that, that they could balance all the things.
Lynne Formigli saw mentorship and leadership development as having been significant in her own achievements within the organization:
It seems to me that our caucus does a really excellent job of helping develop leadership and I know for sure that was the case with me. I feel that the experience I was able to get being caucus co-chair really helped me as a leader and I learned an enormous amount and it’s part of the reason why I was willing to go on to be service center chair and to look at other things and do other things. I think it’s important within an organization like the caucus to continue to groom leadership and to promote leadership within and to give other people that same opportunity to learn.
Mentorship and leadership development continue to be an important aspect of the caucus’ work.
In terms of working on the local level, George Sheridan related a struggle that happened with his local school board in regards to the statewide safe schools legislation. “Perceived” orientation and gender identity, as I argued in the last section, is one of the ways in which the caucus and the GLBT rights movement has worked with a “universalizing” rather than a “minoritizing” frame. Opponents, however, seized upon perceived in order to argue against implementing the statewide legislation locally. As George Sheridan related:
They had the state mandate, they had things they had to do, yet board members wrapped themselves all around this word “perceived” and kind of totally contorted it into– well, if this means that a high school student today says that he’s gay that he would have the right to go into the girl’s bathroom. It was kind of like nonsense. At the same time we had these real crazy Christian fundamentalists who were there who were saying that the whole safety legislation was Anti-Christian discrimination because it was preventing them from expressing their religious beliefs.
So the caucus’ work in State Council has had a very personal impact on George. He recalled:
It’s one thing to go to State Council and hear people speak about principles or to talk about things that are happening some place else and it’s another thing to say, I know that this is a living issue in the community where I teach and the schools where I work because we have these guys with their signs that say “Homosexuality is Sin” and “Gay Marriage” and “Mohammed was a pedophile.”
This made me concerned about what level of impact CTA could actually have on these local issues. When I asked George about this concern, he suggested the following ideas:
Some of it is people leading trainings. Some of it is getting the legislation in place, is important because that gives you cover and protection in doing what you need to do and should do. I think that in large locals the locals can organize trainings and in situations where we have small locals like mine we need to work through our Service Centers in order to increase the number of ordinary members who suddenly realize that this is part of their job, this is part of their responsibility as educators.
A final area that deserves future attention by the caucus is the relationship between the GLBT Issues Advisory Committee and the caucus. Mark Galipeau related when I asked him who the current GLBTIAC chair was:
You know, I don’t. In fact, it’s like… folks, I’m the caucus chair… shouldn’t I know who my people are, out there representing me as a gay man? And I’m sure that information is located on the CTA website and I’ve served on GLBTIAC for a time so it would be nice if that was there. The whole process of appointments to organizations and bodies within CTA via the Board of Directors is a very nebulous process. I know that they would disagree, that the Board says they have a very concrete process for appointments to committees, but sexual orientation is not something a lot of people wear on their sleeves or you can tell by their skin color. I know when I was on GLBTIAC, it would whip around the table one month of the year, ok, well, it’s soon to be time for the Board to start making appointments for the next cycle of this… Who’s been around for three years and is leaving? Who will still be around? And which names should we put forward to be members of GLBTIAC? And as that happened we would say, who are the lesbians who know, who are they gay men we know, do we know any trans teachers, any bisexual, do they live in Northern California or Southern California so we can have equal representation? Many times we were hard pressed to come up with names. In Council, the people who were party to Council is a very narrow scope– you have to first be elected to Council and you have to choose to show up to caucus meetings. We have LGBT members at Council who don’t even come to the caucus anymore for one reason or another and so finding LGBT people who choose to pursue an LGBT agenda within CTA and the caucus or choose to have their names put into submission for GLBTIAC is diminished because of people’s other work in association politics or in not desiring to be identified as a queer caucus member and activist to pursue our agenda within CTA. So, it’s a very interesting situation and again for the process of appointments and finding LGBT people to serve and then pass muster by the Board, that group gets narrower and narrower and it tends to fall on a few committed people who wish to serve on that committee which isn’t always representational.
Strengthening this relationship between the caucus and GLBTIAC would enable the caucus to better raise its issues within the wider organization and allow the caucus to continue the fight for more institutional resources and decision-making authority on these issues to be granted to GLBT persons.
Section D of Chapter 5 contains the recommendations from this study, which draw upon this future direction analysis.
Chapter V. Conclusions
A. Can GLBT politics be a form of Queer praxis?
Thompson (2007) wonders if one must “explicitly claim to be queer” for their pedagogy to be queerly informed. He sees queer pedagogy not as the mere province of a queer elite. Rather, it is “pedagogy ‘against-the-(contextualized)-grain” (p. 52), supporting the unthinkable. In the education profession, simply to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or transgender is often in the realm of the unthinkable. To do queer theory, to do queer pedagogy, to do queer praxis, I contend, does not necessarily require using the word queer. Rather, it is about “the curiosity toward how subjects fashion themselves in the highly social processes of learning” (Luhmann, p. 153)– how members of the caucus: work collectively to determine their needs and come to recognize themselves as actors within a political process, through joint discussion determine what they mean by a community and culture, assert their rights to non-normative expressions of gender and sexuality, and engage in difficult discussions about what intersectionality and oppression entail.
B. How does the GLBT Caucus fit into the movement for social justice unionism?
Rottman reminds us that “although teachers’ unions may be sites for social justice activism, they are not yet social justice organizations” (p. 999). She found that the unions were more likely to use a critical approach when dealing with economic issues. With issues of recognition and identity, they were more likely to take a liberal approach (p. 1002). This question of liberal vs. critical provides represents another area that will be important for the caucus to think about as GLBT issues become more mainstream and the liberal approach to recognition becomes part of standard “common-sense” of the CTA leaders and the CTA structure and bureaucracy.
Rottman, in her attention to critical perspectives on identity and recognition, helps us to better understand the notions of social justice within a union’s work. This perspective is particularly helpful to understanding the work of GLBT teachers within the CTA, as they use both liberal (equal rights, diversity) and critical approaches (conflict, in order to advance their agenda within the organization.
Murphy left us with a cautionary note at the end of her book:
Unfortunately, neither the union [AFT] or the association [NEA] is prepared to come back to the problem of centralization, which is linked to professionalization and will continue to haunt teachers in their dealings with the community. As long as schools remain isolated from community interest groups, the heritage of Nicholas Murray Butler will overshadow the heritage of Margaret Haley (p. 271).
Writing this in 1990, Murphy ominiously foreshadowed the accountability movement, the standards movement, and the testing movement; all of which have moved us closer to centralized control rather than decentralization. This trend towards centralization has had some positive forces in terms of the rights of GLBT issues and students, however. In California, the GLBT safe schools movement allied with the Democratic Party in order to pass safe schools legislation in 1999 which mandated policy changes on the local school level in order to implement the legislation.
It would be a mistake, however, to not see GLBT students and parents as part of the local school communities and only as a statewide “special interest.” To truly carry out the promise of Murphy’s challenge in the context of GLBT organizing we will engage in coalitional work between CTA local unions and local organizations such as GLBT community centers, PFLAG (Parents, Family, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) chapters, COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) chapters, and other similar organizations that form the basis of the GLBT community. Murphy thought that the major issue that existed in terms of coalitional work was taxation. For GLBT issues, though, the major issue needing coalitional work will probably be the question of gender and sexual expression. The question of the 2010 decade might not be economic, but rather a question of identity and recognition.
C. How did Queer methodology in this research work in practice?
Queer methodology, not surprisingly, turned out to be challenging to put into practice. When attempting to meet with the caucus before starting the study, I had forgotten that caucus meetings occur at 9pm on a Friday night after members have just worked a full workweek and then traveled long distances to get there, so they were perhaps not quite as enthusiastic about the concept of working to define the research with me. Perhaps this has to do with my own unfamiliarity with participatory research; our research methods coursework, textbook, and readings did not explore these sort of issues.
The notions of cross-checking theoretical conclusions with study participants became challenging as the theories I utilized got more complex and the participants time was limited. Even the simple goal of checking interview transcripts with interviewees turned out to be a challenge given the busy schedules of teachers and union leaders.
Catalytic validity, or the extent to which participants are transformed by participation, is challenging to assess. There is also limited theorizing on catalytic validity as a concept and so designing a study in such a way as to address those concerns was challenging.
I also experienced some challenges given my position with the organization- to some degree I was an insider and to other degree an outsider. This gave me a unique vantage point but perhaps made it challenging, despite some shared experiences and some shared identities, to relate to the experience of long-term practicing teachers within the profession. My strategies of identity management were not always successful– at one meeting I was introduced as a “student member” (I am actually a full CTA member) and at another a “paraprofessional” (which is my part-time job but in this capacity was really working as a researcher). I also found it complicated to know “on the fly” during interviews whether to try and empathize and relate to what people were saying, whether to share my own experiences and thoughts about what they were saying, or whether to just ask broad questions and collect as much “data” as possible. Qualitative research has particular challenges, and queer qualitative research perhaps even more so.
There are generally two types of recommendations that a researcher would offer in this sort of study– recommendations for the organization under study and recommendations for future research.
In regards to recommendations for the organization under study, I find the notion of it problematic. First, I feel like recommendations in educational studies are often out of touch with the realities of practicing educators and that it is almost presumptuous as me as a researcher to tell practitioners what to do with their practice. Second, I worry that my attempts to creatively explore my identity, queer identity, and GLBT identity would be lost if I distill this paper down into a series of formulaic recommendations. Third, any concrete recommendations I come up with would almost certainly be derived from the interviews, and I would much prefer that readers read those transcripts and hear a multiplicity of voices than a set of single, concise recommendations. Nonetheless, I realize I have a unique perspective on the caucus based on my several years of research and will offer some recommendations but caution the reader to reflect on the author’s identity and where I am coming from when digesting these recommendations:
- Explore the difference between an invocation towards coalition and the actual actions that it would take in order to make coalitions with other identity caucuses within the organization a reality.
- Explore how issues of racism and other oppression play out within the caucus; create a process by which members can reflect on their own privilege in its many dimensions. Perhaps some sort of structured discussion or facilitated conversation would again be appropriate, following up on the conversations that happened during Lynne Formigli’s time as caucus co-chair.
- Reflect on what it would mean to take up Cindy Rottman’s challenge to “critique and protest… oppressive cultural norms followed by systemic action” rather than simply “teaching people to tolerate or celebrate difference and empathize with each other” (p. 980).
In terms of working with these issues in K-12 classrooms, he caucus might look to the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) for a model here. CFT has institutional support for the development and implementation of curricula regarding labor history in the schools. These sort of curricula teach K-12 students how democracy actually works in practice, as in the old Frederick Douglass quote, “Power never concedes anything without a demand. It never has and it never will.” As James Loewen observed about high school history textbooks, change in history curricula is shown as coming from top-down authorities rather than from social movements. The CFT curriculum is an important step towards changing these trends.
A similar model might be developed for education about GLBT issues– teaching students about the issues of conflict and contestation around these issues in our society and an illustration of the power of social movements to make societal changes rather than simply presenting diversity and anti-bullying education as being something that’s handed down from authorities in power and forcibly implemented on students. The movement for GLBT rights could be shown to students as being connected to movements for civil rights, gender rights, labor rights, disability rights, and students’ rights.
- The caucus should engage with Cindy Rottman’s question of “how does the ideological foundation underpinning social justice work compare with that underpinning other organizational priorities” – to what extent do we rely on a critical approach for economic issues but a liberal approach for identity and recognition issues? How can we take a more critical approach– collectively changing the structures of power through contestation and conflict–in the work that both the caucus and CTA do around issues of identity and recognition?
- Consider formalizing the notion of mentorship. Lynne and Mark both emphasized how mentorship from caucus members and their caucus leadership experience was an important component of their ability to advance within CTA and in their careers. Perhaps new members of the caucus or new caucus leadership could be formally matched up with longtime caucus leaders or CTA members in a mentorship program. When I first walked in the door of the caucus, I was feeling threatened by the Student CTA leadership for not meeting their standards of professionalism and performance. It would have meant a lot to me to have someone assigned to me as a new person, someone who would have said, “Here’s the one specific person you can go to with your issues, here is someone that can help you through this large and confusing organization”
- Develop a formal response-tracking system for following up on inquiries and cases. Perhaps when a teacher contacts the caucus with a problem, there could be a formal system for keeping track of what sort of response was made, who they were referred to, and whether or not the problem was ultimately solved. These statistics could help to demonstrate the continued importance of the organization’s existence.
- Make a sustained commitment to outreach to potential members, particularly those of populations that are underrepresented in the caucus. Members of the caucus could, for example, table at and present at all Student CTA conferences and ethnic minority conferences. The caucus could have members visit other Service Center councils in their region and speak to people about the caucus. They could work, perhaps, with the GLBT Issues Advisory Committee to develop a pamphlet on the issues of GLBT teachers of color.
- Cindy Rottman suggests that “an electoral strategy other than majority rule could be used to pass motions related to social justice” (p. 1000). This is an interesting question to take up, as the “democratic” structure that CTA prides itself on makes it challenging to take stances on social justice issues. It takes a 2/3 vote to even consider an item not passed by a committee. Any two members of State Council can put an issue on the agenda (a “New Business Item” or NBI), but it is referred to a committee of the leadership’s choice rather than having the proposers choose a committee to have it heard in. The committee is not required to immediately hear the issue but can postpone issues– I routinely saw the same items listed as “matters pending” for extended periods of time until they were eventually declared “moot” since they were time-sensitive or had already been dealt with in some other fashion by the time they were taking up for consideration.
Perhaps a process could be developed for taking stances on social justice issues in which the policy recommendations could come through EMAC or GLBTIAC so that there would be a formal avenue for people of color and GLBT people to offer amendments to CTA policy or proposals for CTA endorsement of events. As the structure exists now, GLBT people are spread out amongst all the committees, so there might only be two or three of them on any given committee. It is hard to know in advance which committee an NBI will be referred to so it takes complex strategy to get something passed. If the committee does not pass the item, the 2/3 vote required before ANYONE on the floor can discuss a topic has the potential to silence minority voices. Allowing GLBTIAC to bring items to the larger State Council floor for a vote would be an important step towards alleviating this problem. Additionally, allowing the proposer of an NBI to choose the committee to hear the item would enable them to have someone present at the appropriate committee in order to address the issue that they have asked to be put onto the agenda.
In regards to recommendations for future research, there are certainly a lot of different angles that could be taken. Different theoretical frames could be used to explore this caucus– a feminist lens, a critical race theory lens, or a Marxist or post-Marxist lens might all yield different perspectives. Even having a different author would have produced a very different study– I can not imagine more than five to ten percent of the paper being the same if it had been done by a different author. A researcher with more formal historical training might want to do a formal oral history or life history of caucus members. A doctoral student or someone with greater resources might explore and compare caucuses in several different states– perhaps visiting meetings across the country, perhaps even seeing if these sort of caucuses exist in non-Western contexts.
In a perhaps unorthodox (queer?) way, I would like to offer a different set of recommendations– for the reader of the paper:
- When participating in an organization, teaching, doing research, or even just reading research, one will notice that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (GLBTQ) people are rarely mentioned unless they are the topic of the organization or study. When I was in high school English in my senior year, a student once made a remark in a class discussion that 1 in 10 people was gay or lesbian. All the kids (including the closeted gays and lesbians!) quickly looked around to try and guess who they were. If in our professional work– reading articles, working with students, working with colleagues– we would occasionally glance around and wonder who might be GLBTQ, we will find that we notice things that we had missed.
- Take time to reflect on one’s own identity in all aspects of life. How do you label yourself? How do others label you? What are the histories of those identities? What are the possibilities for alliances with people from other identity groupings? Can we enact the possibilities, rather than simply speaking about them?
- Remember that private troubles generally turn out to be public problems, and that having forums such as identity caucuses where we can discuss these problems leads to the ability to take concrete and constructive actions.
- Learn more about queer theory– take a class, pick up an introduction like Nikki Sullivan’s, ask a friend. A lot of the recent (post-1990) theoretical perspectives on gender and sexuality are very different than what you may have learned as a child or a young GLBT person.
Mary Bryson and Suzanne de Castell (1993) leave us with a challenge: “let those who still believe ‘queer pedagogy’ to be possible tell it like it is, or, at least, how it might be.” (Postscript). When I first read that as a young graduate student, filled with hubris, I imagined that I might bring this perspective of queer pedagogy into the caucus. In the process of studying the caucus, however, I found that many of the issues that academics in queer theory raise present themselves within organizations and contexts that do not necessarily use the language of queer theory and queer pedagogy. The caucus is, in my perspective, doing “queer pedagogy,” and so this paper has (hopefully!) “told it as it is” as well as how it “might be.”
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Appendix I: Interviews
Lynne Formigli, January 2, 2010
James: When were you first elected to State Council?
Lynne: Yeah, see, and the first first thing you ask involves a date, doesn’t it now?
James: Well, approximately…
Lynne: I served a 9-year term, had one year when I was not a State Council rep, and then now back on State Council, I believe this is my first year– no, I think this is my second year of my next stint. So two + 1 + nine… twelve. Twelve years ago, there you go.
James: What inspired you to run for State Council?
Lynne: I think like many people who get involved in our union and our associations, somebody looked at me and said I think that you would be good for this position. We had an opening. My local has its own State Council Rep– We have two of them now, at the time we just had one. So I was not part of a multiple. You get tapped on the shoulder and they say, “Hey, Are you interested in doing this?” And the way they did it was actually kind of cool, because my local leadership made arrangements with a State Council Rep from another local and they paid for me to go down and attend for the weekend. They said, “Look, just check it out and see what you think about it and see if this is something you’d be interested in doing.” So the first time I went I was not actually an elected representative– I was just a visitor. But it gave me a sense of what it’s all about. And having somebody who knew the ropes that I was kind of attached to made it really easy because it’s a very overwhelming experience at first. So not being a rep, just being a guest and having somebody to just take me around was really fortunate for me and I was like, “wow I love this, yes I want to do this, sign me up!”
James: I can relate to that- we had one returning person out of our four student reps – so we had someone that knew the ropes.
Lynne: Did you have somebody who said to you, “I think you’d be good to do this?” Did you actively seek it out yourself?
James: I had never been to a Student CTA event; I had just joined online a few months before and the packet came in the mail saying, “Run for State Council.” And I was just like, “Well, I don’t know what this is but it sounds interesting.”
Lynne: [laughs] I know people that have gone to the RA that way. Especially like for ethnic minorities they try to do outreach. They do those mailings. A lot of people just toss them, but there are people who look at that and go, this looks cool. And you get it in the mail and you get a chance to think it over and decide if it is something I want to do. I think it’s important for leadership, when we are in positions of leadership, to remember what it’s like when you have somebody tap you on the shoulder and say, “I think that you would be good in this position” because it’s very flattering and lot of times the leadership sometimes hesitates to do that because there’s a sense of “Oh, I’m asking you to do more– I don’t want to be imposing on your time.” And so, we have this joke and we say,” it’s just four meetings a year– Oh, It’s just one meeting a month.” But sometimes I think we lose sight of how flattering it is to have somebody say, “I think you would do a good job at this.” People are interested and want to get involved… It’s not necessarily a hardship to do this; it’s a privilege and a joy.
James: We had a joke kind of like that for our union executive board, that it’s just “one with meeting a month.”
Lynne: Which is true and that’s the standard joke within the union, that that’s how you get people involved. But again it’s important to remember that if you present it as– part of it is packaging, it’s advertising– if you’re like, “oh we can’t get anybody else to do this, will you do it?” [double check It is not nearly as flattering as I think you would do an excellent job. I think you have the skillset and the wherewithal to do it. It’s a meeting a month, yeah. [laughs]
James: So, what were your first impressions of State Council?
Lynne: Lots of people, lots of meetings, very busy, just lots going on. [pause] Overwhelming! I think that’s true for many people, just kind of overwhelming. It takes a couple of meetings to kind of catch your stride and figure out what’s going on. But everybody’s very friendly, everybody’s very helpful, and there’s definitely clearly a sense of community and as a new State Council member, I don’t recall feeling excluded from that community at all. I felt like I was a newcomer to it for sure, but very welcoming, for sure.
James: If you can imagine, the student reps only serve a one-year term.
Lynne: Yeah, that’s got to be difficulty for you all because it’s harder to have the continuity, which must be frustrating for you as an organization.
James: Now, how did you learn about the caucus?
Lynne: I learned about the caucus- the person who was taking me around took me to the special education caucus because she was a member of that. So I got to see them and that made me aware of the concept of special interest caucuses. But they’re listed in the program- so you go through and you read the program of all the different events that are available and I saw the GLBT caucus and said, “I want to go to that.” So I did.
James: Did you go to it the first time you attended state council?
Lynne: To be honest with you, I don’t recall if it was the first time or if it was the second, when I went as an elected representative. I can’t remember if it was that first weekend or the very next time. It was one of those two. I want to say it was the first time.
James: What were your impressions of the caucus?
Lynne: Everybody seemed to know everybody, everybody was very friendly. It seemed like folks knew what was happening already. So I don’t think it was, maybe it wasn’t the first meeting of the year because usually you do more introduction and background stuff then, so I might have come more midstream. At the time I was just sitting quietly and was just trying to absorb it all. It is was one piece of it, but the basic idea of, Wow!, there’s other gay teachers and we have a forum is a very powerful experience.
James: I remember the first time I attended the caucus; you were actually chairing the meeting.
Lynne: Who was the male co-chair?
James: I don’t remember.
Lynne: It mostly likely would either have been Guy De Rosa or Rhem Bell.
Lynne: You don’t remember.
James: I remember not saying much because I was just trying to figure out what was going on.
Lynne: And many people I think are like that, you’re trying to figure out what’s going on and get an understanding and I think teachers instinctively also know this, it’s a part of our culture that when you first join something like that that you listen and learn and get a feel for what this group is trying to accomplish and how it does it and what kind of more unwritten rules are before you start speaking up. I remember I had a student teacher that I was trying to explain that to and she just didn’t seem capable, she wasn’t able to understand that.
And it was unfortunate, I think I maybe I didn’t do a good job of explaining it to her because she seemed to have this idea that it meant, oh, that just means that nobody wants to hear from the new teachers, that it’s all the establishment and you have to do it their way and nobody wants to hear any new ideas and that everybody’s entrenched. No, that’s not really what it is. It’s more a case of people respect what you have to say more if you show willingness to take the time to understand how things work before you start giving suggestions on how to change it. But, oh well.
Lynne: So, once of the things that I can tell you about the caucus that I’ve experience that I think was really fascinating and really interesting was a number of years ago when I was co-chair, we had a facilitated conversation on race and the caucus. And the interplay with race with gay issues.
It was really interesting– the caucus paid to have an outside person come in and facilitate the meeting for us and we advertised it and we had a fair number of folks come in and talk about it. There’s a history within the GLBT movement that it’s run by white men and having a male and a female co-chair is in part a response to that to make sure that women’s issues are heard as well and it’s not just the boys running it. We have an ethnic minority at-large position on our executive board or whatever you want to call it that is to help address the issue so that minority issues are heard. But within the minority community a lot of time it’s difficulty to be gay because there’s an extra prejudice there and if you’re a minority and are gay it’s sometimes hard to feel welcome within the gay community because there’s this hierarchy that apparently exists and being white puts you somewhere at the top of that and that’s really unfortunate. But we had this conversation, and one of the things that many people spoke about is how when you first come to the caucus meeting there’s a perception that there can be kind of a clique, an in crowd, that people know each other and they joke together. And that’s very much true that people joke a lot during the meetings. Sometimes it’s hard to keep people on task.
Lynne: So people complain about, oh the meetings go to long. Laughs It contributes to that directly. Regardless, one of the things that came out is that people don’t necessarily feel– It’s difficult sometimes to come through the door and it’s important for the leadership to make a point to welcome people and we talked about that, about the idea of having new people making sure you talk with them and connect with them and inviting people, like if a group is going out for dinner after the meeting or something, inviting people to be a part of that. It’s important. What many people within the leadership of the caucus said during that meeting, during that facilitated conversation is, that… it’s funny that everybody said it almost the same way… You might find this hard to believe but I’m actually a really shy person. So many people said it that its hard for any of us to reach out to new people because many of us are inherently shy in the first place. I’ve thought about it since then and I think that sometimes that that’s something that society– part of the pressure of society on our subgroup – it’s one of the byproducts, the effects – that there’s this pressure to stay hidden. And it’s difficult to be out. There’s a subtle message that there’s something wrong with you somehow. And so I think for many people if you are gay, as a result of the lives they’ve lived up to that point and the pressures of society and the messages they’ve been getting– it’s harder for people to be outgoing and to go up to people and say, “Hey, welcome, it’s good to have you here, tell me a little bit about yourself.” We have to make an effort to do that and it’s extremely important to do because we often do feel isolated and a big part of what the caucus provides is that sense of security and a place of belonging that’s so very very valuable, especially for educators who many don’t feel comfortable being out because there’s this whole issue, and we saw it with the Yes on 8 campaign ,they tied it directly to what are we teaching our children. So many teachers don’t feel comfortable being out because they are worried that somehow people will say, “What are you teaching our children?” And it’s just realy really sad. So having a place to belong where you can be out and open is really important. And a lot of folks, I think, we have this persona of being all friendly and open and joking and all and yet underneath that feel very shy and insecure. Insecure is probably a good word to describe it. That’s why so many people said, I heard it over and over again, you might find this hard to believe but I’m actually a very shy person. It’s hard for me to talk to new people. If you like, I can send you a summary, I think we have a summary of what we did because the facilitator helped us to document it and all so I can send you a summary of that if that would be interesting or helpful to you.
James: Yeah, sure.
Lynne: That’s the thing that stuck out the most for me of the things we talked about. And the double whammy of being an ethnic minority and gay because it’s hard for you to feel that you belong in either of the communities that you’re a part of.
James: I wrote down some of the jokes.
Lynne: I remember one time, a lot of times when we do the introductions, your name, where you’re from, what you teach, then they’ll ask for some random trivia. One time it was “something that happened to you at the airport.” And there were all kinds of funny stories and what not, but then introductions take an hour. It’s a delicate balance between making people feel comfortable and having their voices be heard. And being respectful of people’s time so you’re not asking them to stay until midnight on Friday night.
James: Yeah, but you know, when you only see each other once every three months… Here’s the joke I wrote down: “The other caucuses don’t reveal their numbers.” “We like to be revealing.”
Lynne: Part of what defines us is our sexuality, and so many times there’s lots of jokes about that. It’s just kind of fun. It’s part of the culture of the caucus that we joke around a lot and are comfortable with that.
James: Was it originally like the gay and lesbian caucus?
Lynne: It was the Gay and Lesbian caucus … that sounds right. Because I was actually, it was my first year there that they were talking about changing the name and what was interesting was they were talking about changing the name not because there were people who were bisexual and transgender in te room saying how come we’re not part of, how come you’re not explicitly making us part of your group in the name.” But because there weren’t those people in the room necessarily speaking up and we wanted them. That you are welcoming. Change the name and then they will come kind of thing.
James: Has that worked?
Lynne: I don’t think there’s a very high percentage of transgendered teachers in the first place. And of those I don’t know how many of them are elected to State Council. So I think the name is important but finding transgendered individuals to make sure their input is heard is difficult. And it’s something CTA struggles with as well because they try to have a mix of people on all the various committees and it would be helpful to have more CTA members identified as transgendered so that we could again make sure their voices are heard.
James: I’ve heard a lot from transgender friends that they don’t think they’d ever be hired as a teacher.
Lynne: That’s a big part of the issue. There are a couple of very high profile transgender teachers that underwent surgery, underwent the change while they were teachers. Different ones have had different experiences, I think sometimes they end up moving to a different school, sometimes its worked out ok, I don’t think it’s ever a smooth ride, it’s extremly difficult to deal with. People get really whacked when you’re talking about their kids and they have these completely irrational assumptions that they’re making because we are defined by our sexuality that somehow that somehow that makes us more dangerous to their children and that’s completely not true but, yet again,the proposition 8 had nothing to do with what’s being taught in the schools and yet the entire yes on 8 campaign was at it’s most successful when they made that link. So it’s not necessarily about what’s real, it’s about perceptions, and it’s very important for us to work on changing those perceptions. And that’s part of what the caucus exists for.
James: When the Safe Schools bill was first passed in 1999, it originally a had a provision reiterating state law about hiring of teachers, not discriminating. And they had to take that provision out to pass the bill even though it just repeated existing law.
Lynne: I remember them talking about it, and one of the things that they said, the way Sheila Kuehl wrote it was really clever in that instead of spelling it out again, she just quoted another section of law and said, “see section blaty-blah.” And that helps to get it passed, otherwise it would have met more resistance.
James: That was how they got the final vote. Because it failed by one vote originally.
Lynne: I don’t remember that. I remember people celebrating when it became a law, the importance of.. You can attend… I’m sure you’ve seen it as well in the conferences you attend– you go to workshops and trainings and people don’t know about it and people are breaking the law and violating the law and discriminating in ways that is illegal and they’re not getting called on it because people aren’t aware of it and so a big part of what we have to do also is get the word out more and make sure more people are aware of it.
James: I’m often surprised how few candidates for CTA office are familiar with it.
Lynne: Yeah, sitting in on the interview committee is interesting, isn’t it. You realize that people just aren’t aware of the issues. It makes you have to stop and realize, for example, what are the issues of the African American community that I completely unaware of? What are the issues within the Asian community that I am just completely unfamiliar with. Because nobody’s aware of everything; you tend to focus on an area that’s of more interest to you specifically and become knowledgeable in it but most people just kind of bumble along not knowing many things. We kind of trust each other– somebody’s going to be the point person who’s going to be aware of these issues and keep an eye on them and somebody else is going to be keeping an eye on other issues– and between all of us we’re keeping an eye on everything and hopefully it will all work out okay.
James: Now, one thing that I liked about the caucus is that are often guests from some other organization coming to speak about what their organization is and how it is related to CTA’s work. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Lynne: It’s really cool when we can get speakers in. Again, it’s a challenge; we used to do– When I first became a member we had two meetings. We had a friday night meeting and we had Saturday at 5 o’clock. When you have two meetings like that you have more time to get stuff done. When you have a speaker it can be more difficult because you also have to get all the caucus business done and so because we’re always having the time issue… our caucus meetings start at 9 at night and most of the people in the room have taught a full day, have worked a full day, gotten on a plane or gotten in the car and traveled a fair distance, some more than others, and arrive and they’re in a hotel and they’re checking in and they’ve got a long weekend ahead of them and they’ve got to get up early the next day and the meetings can go to midnight. That’s hard. That’s asking a lot of people. It is really cool when we have speakers that come and address and we have special events and that’s cool but again when we’re doing something like that you always have to be cognizant of people’s time and respectful of that. So that’s my perspective on that– more of a logistical one than a content one I guess. Laughs
Lynne:It’s good to hear that you find it valuable. That’s important. It’s good to know that.
James: So you were co-chair for how long?
Lynne: Yeah, that’s one of those things I don’t remember, but I can look up. I want to say it’s about six years, maybe it was only four. I don’t know. I was getting involved as service center chair, which is
(end part 1)
Lynne: That’s a lot of fun. I really enjoy doing that. At some point, it seems to me that our caucus does a really excellent job of helping develop leadership and I know for sure that was the case with me. I feel that the experience I was able to get being caucus co-chair really helped me as a leader and I learned an enormous amount and it’s part of the reason why I was willing to go on to be service center chair and to look at other things and do other things. I think it’s important within an organization like the caucus to continue to groom leadership and to promote leadership within and to give other people that same opportunity to learn and to become a better leader and so I let people know ahead of time that I was not going to seek re-election again for that reason. Because I felt like I’d had an opportunity, I felt like there was a lot that we did, a lot of change during that time. It would be good to let somebody else have a chance, have their vision, their direction that they see us going and again to give people that same opportunity that I was given to develop leadership abilities and experiences and so I chose not to run for reelection again at that point.
James: You think you were caucus chair for six years?
Lynne: It’s a two-year term, so it would have been four or six. But like I said, I can look it up.
James: What service center are you in?
Lynne: Santa Clara County.
James: You know I’m actually originally from San Jose.
Lynne: Remind me again where you’re going to School.
James: San Francisco State.
Lynne: That’s right.
James: You might even know some of my teachers from when I was in school.
Lynne: We have a teacher that’s hired in our school a couple of years ago, maybe this is his second year. Who was a student at the school I teach at when I first started teaching. So it’s kind of cool.
James: What district are you in?
Lynne: Santa Clara.
James: What grade?
Lynne: I teach sixth grade science at Cabrillo Middle School.
James: How long have you been teaching science, approximately?
Lynne: I want to say, 15, 16 years. Something like that. Again have to go back and count.
James: That’s fine. And what kind of credential do you have?
Lynne: I have a single-subject science credential.
James: Right now I’m looking at doing my credential and the credentialing rules are such a mess.
Lynne: Are they? Are they in flux again?
James: I’m interested in special ed, and trying to figure out which exams you have to take for which position and what credential.. I was actually on the Special Ed Committee when I was on State Council.
Lynne: That is really interesting how that all works. My personal philosophy is that politicians basically figure that if they make it more difficult to be a teacher by adding additional requirements or tests or licensing, it doesn’t cost them any money and they can say they’re doing things to improve education. I think that’s why we have such a complicated system. That’s just a personal theory, though.
James: I think I’m going to call it a night
Lynne: Okay. Let me know if you have any other questions, any other information, when I’m back at school I can look up, since it’s all in my school computer (I don’t have it at home) I can look up the date stuff as it were and email.
Mark Galipeau, February 12, 2010
James: Let’s start with some basic biographical information. Where are you teaching currently?
Mark: I am teaching fifth grade in Roehnert Park in Sonoma County, Califonia.
James: So, that’s all subjects?
Mark: Yes. I have a multiple subject credential.
James: What local are you in?
Mark: I’m the President of the Roehnert Park-Catati Educators Association, CTA/NEA. We’re a small local with about 281 members, very small compared to some.
James: Do you have your own State Council seat?
Mark: We do not. We are a multiple and we have – I also serve as the State Council delegate and I also represent a small local that has about 60 membes in it as well as my own.
James: When you first elected to State Council?
Mark: I am my third term, first year, I believe. So, 3, 6, about 7 years ago.
James: How did you become interested in running for State Council?
Mark: I have a background in construction and I was very active in my union as a plasterer for fifteen years where I was the apprenticeship coordinator, vice president, president, and a full time officer as the apprenticeship coordinator within the union. So from that background of my labor work from the building trades, I knew that when I made my career shift from construction, getting my Bachelor’s degree and teaching credential, that I definitely would be involved with the union once I got involved as a teacher. So even before having a full-time job I got involved with CTA – Student Program and started a chapter at Sonoma State, went on to be elected as a student delegate to my first three Representative Assemblies as a student member and was appointed to a national committee as a student member. So even before I had my first job I had a firm foundation of what CTA as an organization was and stood for.
James: Were you already involved with your local then at the time that you ran for State Council?
Mark: No. I was still very much just involved as a student working on my bachelor’s degree and teaching credential so it wasn’t until I was hired as a teacher that I got involved in CTA’s full employee or however that category is classified. There was a phase in between being a student member during my probationary years that I was not involved with the organization at all. I focused strictly on my teaching and was not overly involved with the association. My first job as a teacher I was hired in one district that had a very weak association and I didn’t do anything there at that point being a temporary employee and was not rehired for my first job. I was involved with legal counsel through CTA to pursue to find out if I was not rehired because of sexual orientation and then in my next job, the one I’ve got now that I’ve been with for twelve years as a teacher, I knew that when I got hired in that job that I would be out on my resume so that the school district knew that I was a gay man when they hired me. And it wasn’t until getting permanent status in that second teaching job that I got involved in Association work as a full-fledged CTA member.
James: So you said you were elected to State Council about seven years ago, in 2003?
James: Were there a lot of candidates running, or were there…?
Mark: There was not. It was a transition time for our local between– the President, who had also been State Council for many years, representative for our local, had retired from teaching. When she retired, the Presidency was open but also the State Council position. So I chose to run at that time for the State Council position. So there was an opening, because of the retirement. I was the only candidate running for that.
James: It’s very different for us here in San Francisco because a lot of seats open but even more candidates.
Mark: In some ways, being in a rural area, there’s not as much competition because it is a major commitment. It’s a three year commitment, so twelve weekends a year to go down and be a party to that process.
James: What was your first time at State Council like? What are your impressions or what you remember from that?
Mark: I was really impressed. Even going back before when I was a student member, I don’t know that I went to State Council but the support that I received as a student member and mentorship from other people directly within the caucus to be involved was quite involving or empowering to get involved. And from the beginning as a teacher I had a full understanding of the organization and how it worked from that Student CTA as a delegate to council or a delegate to the RA.
James: So you actually had in some way or another come into contact with the caucus as a student member?
Mark: Absolutely. When I went to the Minneapolis RA, I believe it was in ’95? ’97? Probably ’94-’95. I met caucus members at the Minneapolis Representative Assembly and it was a really powerful experience as a man who had lived a closeted life up until that time about 1994-1995 to find that as a gay man I had colleagues that were out in this profession and were there as a resource that supports me. Where as a closeted gay man in construction there was no such support, and that was also a time when I was in a heterosexual relationship so I was definitely closeted but there was not a known group of gay people within the construction industries that I could have turned to at that time I don’t think. So coming from that previous life and moving into a new career and way of being in the world as a gay man there were a lot of resources for me and support.
James: When you got to State Council was the caucus one of the first things you looked for?
Mark: Absolutely. Because the caucus was there as a student member, and many of the CTA State caucus members were also very active in the National scene, I knew quite a few of those people or several of those people through the NEA RA caucus meetings and the annual dinner they had so that gave me an insight having met them there to come and be a regular party to the Caucus meetings and events that were going on at State Council. Marc Sternberger and Eric Heins are two of the people come to mind as people I recall in those early days of my experience.
James: One of the things I’ve been looking at is the connection between the work of the caucus and union policy. Are there any specific examples of how the caucus’ work has related to the policies or practices of CTA?
Mark: I know that we’ve been a powerful force through the organization and giving voice to our issues when it comes to policy. I know that adding sexual orientation to the many policies has been the work of the caucus over time both in CTA policy handbook as it relates to student safety and really working to further that cause on behalf of our members and students. The direct actions we’ve took I’m not familiar with but I know that (because I was really young at the time and not overly involved in those decisions and the higher machinations of CTA and how we knew that was coming and how that happened) we did organize and have a voice and go to microphones as LGBT CTA members who by affiliation were members of the caucus and there was organization based around strategies to include sexual orientation and domestic partners into CTA policy in the early years when I was a beginning member of the caucus. But how that came to pass I don’t recall. I know that our lives as LGBT leaders both within the caucus and within our own organizations has given us an opportunity to become a part of the bigger CTA organization. We’ve seen to have taken our queer activism and being able to use that as a mechanism to rise to higher leadership positions within the organization: being appointed to the Equity and Human Rights conference or working our way up through the organization to affect policy decisions and to be a public face within the organization as leaders as opposed to our strategy and collective meetings we have as caucus members.
James: Lynne talked about how serving in caucus leadership inspired her to run for Service Center Council chair, for example, when I spoke with her.
Mark: I think that’s, yeah, it certainly does that.
James: You talked about mentorship and support from the caucus as a student member. In what ways did that really contribute to your career?
Mark: You know, I think I’ve given me aspirations to go on and do higher things, I had no idea that at some point that I would be the President of my local union. That was just so far removed from anything I had ever thought I might do. So seeing other local leaders, I have to go back to Eric Heins, he was one of my first LGBT mentors that I came across when I joined student CTA. We ended up being in a year and a half long relationship later on and getting to know him as the President of his local association, both he and Marc Sternberger were members of and officers of the Pittsburg Education Association in Contra Costa County. So seeing them as gay men who were not only committed to LGBT issues but also strong, powerful leaders in uniting all their members as President and Co-President of Pittsburg Education Association and the struggle they were going through for their members in that city with contract negotiations… in addition to balancing that with their professional career as teachers in the classroom was quite inspiring. Like, wow, you can do all this? And really set the model for me for what I’m doing now as the President. It was really amazing to see that, that they could balance all the things.
James: One thing that Lynne and I talked about was about how at one point the caucus had gone through a facilitated discussion about issues of race. Were you around for that, or was that before you were involved?
Mark: I don’t recall a conversation about that. I do know that we continue to have concerns that the meetings of the various ethnic minority caucuses and those others such as Women’s Caucus and the LGBT caucus tend to have our queer caucus members divided about where they can go because sometimes they conflict with times and other things happening at council. And I do know there was discussion about the LGBT caucus not receiving its due as a caucus on par with ethnic minority caucuses because of the (3)(1)(g) rule within CTA, or NEA, I’m not sure which, to promote equal stature of ethnic minority members within the organizations. They have considerable steps to reach parity with the student population in California on proportional representation and we have felt somewhat left out over the course of this and haven’t felt on par with the ethnic minority caucuses because of their stature as.. .I won’t say, protected class, but in some ways yeah because they have had more of an inroad. I think the LGBT Caucus though has risen to prominence in recent years with the formation of GLBTIAC, The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues Advisory Committee so we in some way risen in parity with ethnic minority caucuses in that we have an advisory committee now to the Board to bring our issues directly to the table as opposed to having to do floor strategies to get things passed on the floor through the caucus we have a higher standing now which is a step in the right situation. And with that, our move, the GLBTIAC committee’s recommendation to have our first annual LGBT conference within CTA which was an amazing success with so many new local LGBT leaders and members coming out to a first-time event; many of them had never been involved in CTA politics. So I think we are making incredible gains within the organization.
James: I did just read the (3)(1)(g) report and it did occur to me that the only time it mentioned GLBT issues was when it talked about how ethnic minority programming or leadership should be present at the GLBT conference but that was it.
Mark: So that’s an area I think the caucus needs to work on. I myself have taken to going to the Women’s Caucus on Saturday mornings as part of my outreach as a gay man to the Women’s Caucus and have had conversation with the chair of that caucus but I think we do need to branch out as LGBT members to reach into the ethnic minority caucuses and have conversations about queer issues within the context of the ethnic minority community because our issues are their issues as well because we have people of color that are LGBT identified.
James: What’s the relationship between GLBTIAC and the caucus, is there a lot of overlap in membership, does the caucus bring things to GLBTIAC, how exactly does that work?
Mark: At the caucus meetings Friday night at council, the caucus gives GLBTIAC the opportunity to share what’s going on in GLBTIAC. I do believe that the lines of communication could be clearer, that there should be a way for us as a caucus to have better access to GLBTIAC and it would be nice to formalize an ongoing dialogue between them so that we can share with the caucus members the nature of the work that GLBTIAC is doing and the issues they are taking up. It does seem to be, I don’t want to say a closed group, but the network between the two is not as seamless as I think it should be. The issues that GLBTIAC are definitely of great concern to the caucus membership so I think that’s a growth area that I as a male co-chair of the caucus would need to work on. We have no real structural connection aside from casual conversations
James: I guess GLBTIAC’s always been kind of a mystery to me because it doesn’t meet at State Council and I asked about being appointed to it once but they told me it wasn’t possible because I had termed out and so it would be interesting. Do you know who’s chairing GLBTIAC this year?
Mark: You know, I don’t. In fact, it’s like… folks, I’m the caucus chair… shouldn’t I know who my people are, out there representing me as a gay man? And I’m sure that information is located on the CTA website and I’ve served on GLBTIAC for a time so it would be nice if that was there. The whole process of appointments to organizations and bodies within CTA via the Board of Directors is a very nebulous process. I know that they would disagree, that the Board says they have a very concrete process for appointments to committees, but sexual orientation is not something a lot of people wear on their sleeves or you can tell by their skin color. I know when I was on GLBTIAC, it would whip around the table one month of the year, ok, well, it’s soon to be time for the Board to start making appointments for the next cycle of this… Who’s been around for three years and is leaving? Who will still be around? And which names should we put forward to be members of GLBTIAC? And as that happened we would say, who are the lesbians who know, who are they gay men we know, do we know any trans teachers, any bisexual, do they live in Northern California or Southern California so we can have equal representation? Many times we were hard pressed to come up with names. In Council, the people who were party to Council is a very narrow scope– you have to first be elected to Council and you have to choose to show up to caucus meetings. We have LGBT members at Council who don’t even come to the caucus anymore for one reason or another and so finding LGBT people who choose to pursue an LGBT agenda within CTA and the caucus or choose to have their names put into submission for GLBTIAC is diminished because of people’s other work in association politics or in not desiring to be identified as a queer caucus member and activist to pursue our agenda within CTA. So, it’s a very interesting situation and again for the process of appointments and finding LGBT people to serve and then pass muster by the Board, that group gets narrower and narrower and it tends to fall on a few committed people who wish to serve on that committee which isn’t always representational I think of the broader LGBT community within CTA, which in and of itself is a whole number topic as to how do we fully identify LGBT members within the California Teachers Association when we as a sexual minority are marginalized, victimized, and forced to stay closeted because of our sexuality wherever we may be in California because not everyone is comfortable to be out where they teach. We have a lot of strikes against us to be vocal and it becomes incumbent upon us as the few out active activists within the caucus or within CTA to give voice to our concerns through GLBTIAC and through the Board process.
James: What do you see the caucus’ relationship being to other organizations such as Ally Action in the East Bay, or the GSA Network, or GLSEN? I’ve noticed that sometimes the caucus has had speakers from other organizations come in and speak with us and that kind of thing, how do those relationships work?
Mark: You know again I think as a caucus I don’t think we have a relationship with people, it’s more based on individual teachers passions and work in their local areas to connect the two. And say, I know someone else in the caucus who might be willing to do that or if someone has a conference coming up with LGBT youth that they’ll talk to the caucus about it. I think the power or organization of the caucus wanes and rises from time to time and the connections we have with other organizations is only as strong as the single member or couple of members that choose to bring the caucus into it. The caucus is again a very nebulous thing because we only exist for the most part at Councils and at the regional conferences and good teaching conferences and things like that and I think at that point the point of contact is for local members for contact with the broader queer community within CTA to show that yes, we do have an organization albeit it brigadoonish that we only appear four times a year for actual major business. Those regional conferences give face to a fact you are supported as a LGBT member in your classroom and in your work with the association by us who choose to be out in public at Council and hold caucus meetings at conferences so that we as sexual minorities can at least at these events come together and voice our concerns and share what’s happening with our locals– positive and negative. Positive by our work as activists within our own community and political campaigns or statewide campaigns or GSAs or PFLAG or COLAGE or whatever it is that we do as queer activists in those broader organizations–we can share that expertise with each other but also have the personal one-on-one time with other members who might not be out and as vocal about it in their locals. So, if we’re having a region 4 leadership conference coming up and we can have a caucus meeting there there might be someone who’s having an issue with a principal or school board or a student and at that caucus meeting they can have that conversation with other queer people to problem-solve and strategize. At this point in time I think that’s what the caucus needs to do is to be a visible presence at those regional conferences so we can reach out to members in the field the counsel that they might need to get through a situation and refer them to CTA legal, refer them to other GLBT members, so that they can be empowered to take care of themselves and that situation that they might be in.
James: Which connects to my next question- where do you see the caucus going from here?
Mark: I definitely see a need for our caucus to connect with the ethnic minority caucuses to show where we overlap and how our needs are similar. I see a need to outreach to teachers in outlying areas and through regional conferences but also through the continuing expansion and regular GLBT conference scheduling so that they can know and through our CTA publications that there is an organization that if they are sexual minorities they can be a part of that conference and connect with others. I think that we need to continually be a presence with our board of directors as a caucus and through GLBTIAC to continue the fight for marriage equality and our gay agenda as laid out through the various organizations, Equity and Human Rights and Task Force to work on things. Maybe not so much here in California, but on the national level- Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, immigration reform, foster adoption for gay and lesbian parents, and to be a party to those bigger issues and make sure our voice is heard on those and other issues. And even just on the level of GSAs and ending workplace harassment for our members. We still have a long way to go, making schools safe for queer kids and ending harassment of teachers and creating a safe workplace environment I think are still issues we need to tackle which are part of the broader societal changes that we as a LGBT movement have to continually fight until we have full equality and we can lead our lives being gay in America.
James: The issue of school climate recently came up here in San Francisco with our school board wanting to create some new positions to coordinate district-wide efforts in terms of GLBT youth and that being controversial among parents because they’re looking at how class size is going to go up and all these teachers are going to be laid off and then the district is hiring new district-wide personnel to work on what they saw as a “special interest.”
Mark: In these tough budget times that’s a very valid concern but the safety and climate for all students is an important aspect. We still have teacher, I was at the Creating Change conference in Dallas last week, and there was a report on San Francisco Safe Schools Coalition on bullying and harassment and they had some very powerful statistics on what kids are doing and enduring in this time and how that’s affecting attendance and participation in education. When kids feel bullied and pressured and harassed, because of real or perceived sexual orientation, they’re not in the classrooms, they’re not showing up, they’re ditching because it’s not a safe place. So I would counter that it’s money well spent because if you can keep kids in school, overall your bottom line is going to improve so if we can hire one person to work on LGBT safety and health in a school district and have that person act as a resource, if we can keep kids in school we’re going to have more attendance and more money coming in so I think it might a minor step for improving but I think in the long run it could help save lives and boost people’s participation in school.
James: Is there anything else that you think would be useful for me to know in terms of this project that I’m working on?
Mark: I think you’re doing wonderful work. I don’t know that there’s more that I could add to your topic. But if I do think of something… have you had a chance to talk to George Sheridan?
James: Not formally, I mean, I’ve talked to him quite a lot in the past on a variety of issues, but you think…
Mark: He is a stalwart in the caucus and does a lot of work in all ways to help the caucus by taking the bag that travels from conference to conference. He’s adopted that bag, and taken responsibility for getting that from place to place and he is an ally– I don’t know how he sexually identifies– but he’s certainly one for our cause– an activist for us in some ways. His background goes deep into the civil rights movements and social movements through the Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez and Dr. King. I had a conversation with him at that restaurant we were at wherever that was, whenever that was…
Mark: laughs LA, Silverlake. He’s got this broad background and personal experience within social movements and I think he would be in terms of social movements and the LGBT movement and his experience within the caucus, I don’t know when it began, but I would talk to him and find out his understanding of the caucus from his perspective as someone who has been in that grassroots involvement from very early days in social movement history. That would be a very interesting conversation that I would like to hear at some point. I think he could share some insights with you.
George Sheridan, March 17, 2010
James: What grade level do you teach?
George: Currently, first grade. I’ve taught first, second, third, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth.
James: What credentials do you have, teaching credentials, I mean?
George: Standard elementary, and secondary. The secondary credential is for English, History, and Civics/Social Studies/Humanities and a bilingual certificate.
James: So you’ve really taught a lot of different things, then?
George: Some, yeah! But I’ve been teaching a long time.
James: What district are you in right now?
George: Black Oak Mine Unified in El Dorado County.
James: Where is that?
George: If you look at a State map you might find Placerville which is the El Dorado County seat and Auburn which is the Placer county seat and most of the territories between them on up the crest to the Sierra is our District.
James: My parents have a home up in Placerville, so …
George: If you’re in Placerville, you’d head north on highway 49 toward Auburn and everything East once you’re out of Placerville is our school district and once you get past Coloma we also have some of the area west of 49 towards Folsom Lake.
James: How did you first get involved with State Council?
George: You know, that’s almost in the dim mists of history but I think there’s two things– Steve DePeu had something to do with it. Steve is now on CTA Staff but at that time he was a teacher in my District and the other thing that– Steve was the person who was most active in CTA probably in the whole district at the time and then I was very concerned about the testing and assessment standards movement that resulted in No Child Left Behind so part of why I went to State Council was because I wanted to affect CTA policy on that.
James: Does your local have its own State Council seat, or …?
George: No, we have never had more than about 110 members and we are smaller than 100 members now, so we’re part of a multiple that’s actually El Dorado, Alpine, Placer, and Tuoloumne County Multiple 1. So all together in the multiple, several dozen locals– 15 locals in El Dorado County, Alpine County has one local, and a few more down in Amador and Tuoloumne. And so there’s about 5 representatives together from all those locals in the multiple.
James: Do you remember what your first time at State Council was like?
George: Well, I can remember some things. I was assigned to the Assessment and Student Testing committee and most of the time since I’ve been on that committee. At that time, the Chair of the Committee was Jeff Orlinsky who was the first chair the committee ever had. The committee had relatively recently been formed from Curriculum & Instruction. I remember some of the people who spoke in debate on Council floor during my first year. People like David Hernandez, Eric Heins, and Lynette Henley and Bob Nichols, who was the CTA director from the San Jose area. People who just made an impression on me because whenever they spoke what they said made sense and who spoke and kind of stood up for principles that I believed in. At that time, the CTA President was Lois Tinson. The first year that I was on State Council, it might have been the second council meeting, was when Gray Davis called a special session of the legislature and they had what they called the “X” bills, for extraordinary session, on education. That was all education reform. That was the start of the public schools accountability act, the STAR testing, and so forth. I actually remember at that point that what CTA leadership told us on the Assessment and Testing committee and it became our job to tell everyone on council was well, Governor Davis’ bills have some bad features in them but more or less, we can work with him so we shouldn’t oppose the bills. Let’s let them pass and then we’ll work to fix them.
James: That may have been a mistake looking back on it.
George: I would say so. I don’t know whether we could have stopped them at the time.
James: Maybe in retrospect it was a mistake not to fight those bills harder.
George: Well, really we didn’t fight them at all and I agree with you. I don’t know if we would have changed the legislation at that point but the fact is we haven’t been able to change it since. Every bad feature that was there has continued to be there up to the present.
James: When did you first learn about the GLBT Caucus?
George: I don’t know. I know that, as I said, Eric was one of the people that I noticed speaking at Council fairly early in my time at Council, and then Marc Sternberger. I had a vocal Sacramento area leader, Lynnete Tanaka, who was on the NEA Board and then was our service center chair and she was a strong advocate for gay rights and at some point I remember going up to Marc and Eric and saying, “I’d really like to support the caucus and I don’t know how I can do that.” And they said, “You can join!” And I was so naïve that I didn’t realize I could join the caucus. So they said you can join and I said, “Oh, I will!” And I did.
James: A lot of people don’t realize that caucus membership and attendance at meetings is fairly open.
James: Do you know approximately when it was that you joined the caucus?
George: It was before we started going to the Westin so put it back maybe six years ago.
James: Do you remember who the caucus leadership was at the time?
George: I don’t remember for sure. I remember of course Rhem and Lynne Formigli. I can’t remember back to who… Oh, I’m picturing the woman right now but I can’t think of her name. If we were looking at records of who the caucus leaders were I’d be able to say, “Oh yeah” but I can’t remember the name right now.
James: I remember Lynne was one of the co-chairs when I first started coming.
George: This dates back before her, but I can’t remember who.
James: Well, we can either check the records or maybe it will come back to. The exact details are not necessarily the focus of my paper, but more just general themes that come out of these conversations I think.
George: So you know the one thing about the GLBT Caucus that I think is probably significant in terms of me being able to be involved is the fact that the caucus has scheduled its meetings at a time different from all of the other ethnic minority caucuses. Because I joined all of those caucuses but essentially because they all meet at the same time. I go to the Hispanic caucus and I can’t be at the women’s caucus or the black caucus or the asian caucus or the american indian-alaska native caucus. And I can be at the GLBT Caucus because it is at a different time.
James: I think that’s rather intentional.
George: Well, I know it is. But I’m saying in my case it made a difference.
James: For many people it does. One thing that’s come up in all of the conversations I’ve had with people is what kind of relationship the GLBT caucus should have to the other ethnic minority caucuses and also, whether or not the GLBT caucus could be considered being like an ethnic minority or whether it’s something else entirely. What are your thoughts on that?
George: Let me start with the first one, about relationship. Over the number of years I’ve been active in the caucus there have been few people who were actively identified with an ethnic minority caucus who were also actively involved in the GLBT caucus. There have been times that secondhand I have heard about tensions of people in the ethnic minority caucuses feeling that the GLBT caucus was kind of trying to get credibility by saying that the issues were the same or similar but not really feeling the connection. I think there have been several times that there’s been discussion in the GLBT caucus about a need for outreach and some effort for outreach but it– from my personal perspective it hasn’t felt like it was a sustained commitment. There was one time when the African-American caucus had a conference at the Sheraton Gateway in Los Angeles and I went to that conference and set up the table representing the GLBT Caucus but it was the kind of thing where the GLBT Caucus hadn’t– if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was going, there wasn’t necessarily going to be a caucus presence. Rhem Bell was there but he had other responsibilities and couldn’t set up a table or staff a table for the caucus. Maybe you could ask me a followup on that and it might prompt some more thinking but the basic point I’ve been making is that my feeling is that the relationship has not been as close as I think it could be and it should be and I think some of that has been on the part of caucus members who have not kind of made the commitment to the organizing that it takes to build a solid ongoing relationship.
James: I know various individual caucus members have talked about going to other caucus. One caucus member told me that they usually go to the Women’s Caucus, another caucus member told me that they’ve made an effort to go to the Republican Caucus to reach out to them. So I do think there are individuals working on what they can but in terms of the organizational commitment maybe that…
George: You know, I’m not trying… It’s not my purpose to kind of lay out a critique of the caucus and say hey, well, the caucus is really failing in this area. But if you’re asking me to reflect on my experience and how I got involved, I’m assuming we may talk about things that I think the caucus has done well and this is a place where it should be and could be stronger relationships than I think there has been.
James: And so did the other people that I talked with as well. The second thing: One person felt that the (3)(1)(g) rule gives ethnic minority caucuses a particular status that the GLBT caucus doesn’t have.
George: I think that’s true. I think there’s a particular history that led to… the (3)(1)(g) rule is basically what we used to call affirmative action. Part of the reason that that exists goes back to, I think, the merger of NEA and the American Teachers Association (ATA). The fact is that there was an independent African-American teachers organization which agreed to become part of NEA and that was a good thing in terms of ending segregation but I think there was a legitimate fear on the part of black educators that had built this organization. They didn’t want to simply be swallowed up and disappear. NEA created a series of mechanisms to say, we’re going to make sure we have minority leadership and ideally it emerges naturally; we elect a black woman to be the director in this area because she’s clearly the strongest leader in the association. If that doesn’t happen enough, for whatever reason, then we have minority-at-large positions on the board, we have minority-at-large positions in ABC and our service centers and on the NEA Board. We have the (3)(1)(g) rule for representation at the RA and so on. All of that is essentially there with the idea that, well, if things were working perfectly, that wouldn’t be necessary. At least that’s the way that I understand it. The reality is that, I’m sure, that we have had gay men and woman who were elected to various positions in the association before they were out or maybe they were never out. In relatively recent times, we’ve had gay men and women and the fact that they were out was known to many of the people who voted for them and in some cases may very likely even have led to their election or have been one of the things that people considered and said, okay, I’m voting for that! I don’t know if… in one sense, you say, sauce for the goose is gravy for the gander, if we do something for one disadvantaged group we should do it for everyone but I’m not sure the situations are exactly parallel.
James: Yeah, sometimes you hear people of color communities criticizing GLBT leaders for making it seem like civil rights and gay rights are synonymous. That there are some parallels but maybe they’re not identical situations.
George: I think there’s a lot of parallels. At root I think we’re talking about justice and we’re talking about people who are discriminated against in law and in social customs. And we’re talking about people who are threatened with violence so there are a lot of parallels. But within our association, I think we have to struggle really hard to get ethnic minority representation equal to the percentage of ethnic minority members of the profession and we don’t reach the percentage of ethnic minority students. I haven’t counted but I think maybe we’re at the point where the percentage of gay leaders in the organization exceeds ten percent, which is the most common estimate for the percentage of gay people.
James: It’s interesting because to some degree these issues really are sort of everyone’s issue, it’s thought that the majority of kids that get harassed for their gender presentation in schools are not necessarily identifying as gay but rather perhaps aren’t masculine enough, aren’t feminine enough…
George: Right, I think that’s true and by the way at the Equity and Human Rights Conference there was a really good play put on by students from the LA County High School for the Arts. I thought it was really much better in terms of a learning experience for people who work with youth even than Stand Up. That was one of the points that they made through the play– here was a student who absolutely thinks of himself as straight but was perceived as not sufficiently masculine so he’s bullied by those who want to make sure to keep gay people in their place.
James: There’s also been a really strong effort in legislation on discrimination to make it clear that it’s based on “actual or perceived.”
George: That was something that was really interesting in dealing with my school board. They had the state mandate, they had things they had to do, yet board members wrapped themselves all around this word “perceived” and kind of totally contorted it into– well, if this means that a high school student today says that he’s gay that he would have the right to go into the girl’s bathroom. It was kind of like nonsense. At the same time we had these real crazy Christian fundamentalists who were there who were saying that the whole safety legislation was Anti-Christian discrimination because it was preventing them from expressing their religious beliefs.
James: I guess if your religious beliefs include other people not being able to be free from harassment and teasing and violence in schools then I guess it would be restricting your beliefs but I’m not sure how they see it.
George: Mmm, pretty close. So that’s been one of the kind of the community touchstones. It’s one thing to go to State Council and hear people speak about principles or to talk about things that are happening some place else and it’s another thing to say, I know that this is a living issue in the community where I teach and the schools where I work because we have these guys with their signs that say “Homosexuality is Sin” and “Gay Marriage- No!” and “Mohammed was a pedophile.” Really interesting stuff. “Tolerance of Sin is obviously bad” sort of Barry Goldwater “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.” And there’s the kids I know personally who have been hassled in one way or another because of the way that other people perceive them.
James: To what degree can CTA make a difference in these sort of situations that arise on the local level? I think you were at the meeting, the caucus meeting, where we were discussing the hostile work environment that educators are facing in LA Unified, for example. And then your own experiences locally– what can CTA do to support or influence these kind of things that happen more on a local level than a statewide level?
George: I think that the anti-bullying training is one of the ways that we are able to… I think what we need to do is to continue to reach more and more of our members. Kind of the whole spectrum of moving from ignorance and kind of casual and unconscious bias to becoming aware of the reality of the lives of our students to becoming advocates for them and support for them. I think that CTA can have a significant role in helping people kind of move along that continuum. Some of it is people leading trainings. Some of it is getting the legislation in place, is important because that gives you cover and protection in doing what you need to do and should do. I think that in large locals the locals can organize trainings and in situations where we have small locals like mine we need to work through our Service Centers in order to increase the number of ordinary members who suddenly realize that this is part of their job, this is part of their responsibility as educators.
James: It’s interesting, even in San Francisco educators are often very silent on these issues.
George: I can’t speak to that except that it’s always easy to assume that someone else is taking care of stuff.
James: I talked to a paraprofessional who has suffered anti-gay discrimination here in San Francisco and he’s had to mostly just grin and bear it.
George: Well, you know there was, in the area that I live in and I represent on the NEA Board, there was a lot of resistance to CTA’s position on the gay marriage initiative. We heard some blowback about that at State Council. There were people, particularly in Region 2, which is kind of all these rural counties stretching up to the Oregon border, who kind of swallowed the idea that marriage was a religious issue and so thought that CTA was on the wrong side or simply didn’t see why CTA was getting into this at all because it didn’t have anything really to do with our job of promoting public education. I think that means… it’s not the kind of thing where you can go to people with a thirty second spot and turn them around, it’s the kind of thing where, again, you have to be organizing over a long period of time and the organizing is having lots of conversations.
James: Some people have talked about how CTA lost membership over that issue. Do you have any idea of how significant that was?
George: I’m sure that there’s some people someplace that said, that’s the reason I’m leaving CTA. It may even be true that for some people that really was the reason to leave CTA. I don’t think that was a significant issue immediately in terms of our membership and dues income and so forth. I think there’s kind of a broader number of people who kind of turn off to CTA messages because they get turned off by a particular message. I think that’s a more significant problem for CTA, but I don’t think that the answer is that you avoid telling people things that they don’t want to hear. I think the answer is that you just work a lot harder, keep talking to those people so that you hear what they have to say and you tell them what they don’t want to hear.
James: It’s definitely a challenge, some people feel like the teachers unions are “too political” while other people feel like teachers’ unions don’t do enough to push for social change.
George: People that think that the unions are “too political” are generally, I think, simply politically naïve. The reality is that this is public education that is funded by the taxpayers so it’s political from the get-go. Then, what are the curriculum standards? That’s very political! Not just in history and also in science because there are some people who think they should teach their religious view of creation and then there’s the whole thing about teaching a view of human life that will support their anti-abortion position or whatever. So everything we do is political, in my opinion. I think that the problem is not that we are “too political” but the problem is that we don’t always explain the connection between a particular political stance and our mission, our fundamental principles, and that’s what we have to keep working on with our members. Now with people who are not our members, there’s a whole different story. You get the Sacramento Bee or whatever other rag you want to name, they do editorials but they’ll just pick up any stick they can find to beat us with. If it happens to be that we’re involved in too much politics, they’ll use that. If they want to say that we’re selfish, they’ll use that. But fundamentally, they’re simply anti-union and they’ll use any excuse to cover, what they want to do is simply have a message of anti-union.
James: It’s interesting too since the climate is starting to change in education research but for a long time researchers saw unions as being a part of the status quo and opposed to “reform” and it’s only been in recent years that more and more researchers are starting to take a critical look at unions and see that they’re fairly complicated institutions that do a lot of different things on education. Some people think unions are resistant to reform, like some of the Bush administration leaders …
George: The Obama administration leaders too. My experience is that it’s not the union, not the union leaders, certainly, but it’s the members who are trying to educate students who resist things they have a very good sense that are not educationally sound. All the stuff on standardized testing, it didn’t come from Lois Tinson, Wayne Johnson, Barbara Kerr, or from the members of the CTA Board that we needed to fight that, it came from the members. When CTA took the lead at persuading NEA that we really had to push back on the so-called No Child Left Behind Act… that started with members in Tulare and King counties in central California. What you think of as the most conservative teachers around… it wasn’t about their union, they said, this stuff is not working for our students and the union needs to back us up on it.
James: That makes a lot of sense. I think I’ve pretty much covered the main points that I wanted to and it’s now dinnertime here so I should probably get going.
George: We can talk again if there’s things that you decide you want, need to add. I don’t really have a clear sense of what you’re looking for or what’s emerging in your research, but I’d be interested in finding out about.
James: I’ll certainly, I’m still going over the various interviews. It takes a while to transcribe the conversations. I’ll definitely send you a transcription of what we talked about tonight and maybe send you a little more information about some of the things I’ve been looking at and thinking about. I’ve had a paper accepted and I will be presenting at the American Educational Research Association.
Appendix II: List of CTA Caucuses
As of February 26, 2010, the following caucuses are registered with the California Teachers Association. Registration does not imply endorsement by the organization although caucuses are permitted to meet at CTA meetings, to set up informational tables in a designated area, and to have their meetings listed in the program.
- Adult Education Caucus
- African American Caucus
- American Indian/Alaska Native Caucus
- California Council of Urban Education Associations
- Caucus for Educators of Exceptional Children
- County Office of Education
- Early Childhood Caucus
- Fine Arts Caucus
- Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Caucus
- Green Caucus
- Higher Education Caucus
- Hispanic Caucus
- Local Union Leaders United (LULU)
- Non-Tenure Track Faculty Caucus
- Pacific Asian American Caucus
- Peace and Justice Caucus
- Republican Caucus
- Rural Suburban Caucus for Small Schools
- Support Cadre Resisting Administrative Maltreatment (SCRAM)
- Women’s Caucus