Teachers' Union Object Of Discrimination Complaint

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

(CNSNews.com) - The National Education Association, one of the nation's largest teachers' unions, is the object of a sexual orientation discrimination complaint.

The Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting those families whose lives have been affected by homosexuality, filed the complaint Friday with the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights in Washington.

At issue is PFOX's application to the union to lease an exhibit booth at the June 30 NEA Expo in Dallas.

According to its statement, "PFOX explained that it wished to distribute educational materials promoting equal opportunity and an inclusive environment for the ex-gay community."

PFOX claims Carolyn Cruise, from the executive office of the NEA, informed them that a letter would be sent to their organization if the group had been accepted as a distributor.

According to PFOX, the NEA claimed that exhibit booths were limited and the teachers' union only gave priority to applicants who had exhibits in the past.

"We informed Ms. Cruise that our PFOX check for the initial deposit for the booth had already been accepted and cashed by NEA over two months ago," said Regina Griggs, executive director of PFOX.

After speaking with the teachers' union, PFOX anonymously called the NEA exhibit booth contractor, CEPI, Inc., and asked if there were any booth available for the expo.

"CEPI informed us that there were two NEA booths left and we could have one if we paid in full by credit card," Griggs said. "They faxed the NEA application to us with a dated cover sheet on it. Nowhere on the application does it state that booth acceptance is based on prior participation as an NEA exhibitor.

"On the contrary," she said, "the NEA website states that placement for the best booth spaces is assigned on prior participation as an NEA exhibitor and on the date the application is received."

PFOX said it received a letter on June 10 from Thomasine Williams, NEA Conference Coordinator, rejecting its application because the exhibit booth space had been "completely sold out."

"NEA rejected our application on the basis of sexual orientation discrimination, but it is hiding behind a 'sorry, all sold out' excuse," Griggs said. "It seems that NEA has violated its own resolutions against sexual orientation discrimination."

The NEA said Friday it had no comment and would not have any comment until it has studied the complaint, according to spokesperson Kathleen Lyons.

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