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Teachers’ union targets Trump, Oklahoma ‘anti-trans’ laws

Ray Carter | July 10, 2024

At its recent annual meeting and representative assembly, members of the National Education Association (NEA) voted to focus on states like Oklahoma that prohibit males from using girls’ bathrooms or participating in girls’ sports.

The Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) is the state’s largest teachers’ union and the state affiliate of the NEA.

Typically, NEA members take up numerous business items at the representative assembly each year. This year’s activity was curtailed because NEA staff members went on strike during the event, protesting what they say are the NEA’s unfair labor practices.

However, Education Week reported that NEA delegates did approve a handful of business measures, including a measure directing the NEA to update its “What to Know about State Anti-Trans Laws” resource on the union’s website and update the link monthly.

That website link currently takes NEA members to a memo decrying what the union portrays as “laws attacking transgender youth.”

“Most of these laws either prohibit transgender youth participating in school-related sports on the teams that align with their gender identity or prohibit transgender youth from receiving gender-affirming healthcare,” the NEA document states.

“Gender-affirming healthcare” is a euphemism for the practice of providing children with puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or sex-change surgeries when a child expresses gender dysphoria.

Oklahoma law limits student access to multi-stall bathrooms based on sex, rather than allowing access based on self-proclaimed gender identity, and has a similar law in place for athletic competitions. Oklahoma law also prohibits medical officials from performing sex-change surgeries on minors or providing children with puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones when a child expresses gender confusion.

However, the current NEA memo does not note Oklahoma’s laws, which were not in place when the memo was originally drafted. Presumably, Oklahoma will be added to the list of states singled out by the NEA when the information is updated.

The assembly also included a keynote address by NEA President Becky Pringle. In her prepared remarks, Pringle bragged that teacher-union members had helped oust former President Donald Trump, saying union members “worked hard to rid ourselves of a tyrannical, deceitful, and corrupt White House, but the reality is that the seeds that were sown during that horrible season continue to germinate.”

“Today, they sprout as vitriol toward our profession; increased marginalization of Black, brown, AAPI, and Indigenous communities; rising hatred toward our LGBTQ+ siblings,” Pringle said. “The seeds of hate manifest themselves as attacks against our freedom to teach; our students’ freedom to learn.”

Pringle vowed that NEA members will work to “re-elect President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, our  pro-childcare; pro-Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; pro-universal meals; pro-voting rights; pro-schools free of gun violence; pro-racial and social justice friends who have been the strongest champions of public education, of educators, and of the labor movement in the history of our nation.”

She also urged teachers to elect U.S. senators and U.S. House members who “work with our president” to “enhance the rights of our LGBTQ+ community” and preserve abortion.

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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