By Peggy Nemeth
The California Teachers Association, a union with 350,000 members, likely contributes more to equity in education than any other organization. It provides LGBT+ youth of California with more protection and support than students outside of California enjoy.
One opportunity that I have gratefully participated in as a CTA member has been the annual CTA GLBT Issues Conference. This weekend-long conference has taken place for nine years, usually in Palm Springs or San Jose, where hundreds of California teachers gather to learn and network about issues that are of highest importance to LGBT+ youth and teachers.
On Friday evening of the conference, about 300 teachers arrive at the hotel ballroom where the events of the GLBT Issues Conference kick off with a delicious dinner, inspirational speakers, and group activities. The following Saturday includes a jam-packed agenda with many workshop choices, a film, various exhibits with resources for teachers, and a keynote speaker. This year’s workshop topics included:
- How To Be an Out Educator or Supportive Ally
- The Only Choice I Made Was not To Live a Lie
- Creating Trans-Affirming Schools
- Empowering Student Social Activists
- Organizing for Success
- Strength Stories/Appreciative Inquiry
- FAIR Act 2.0 Classroom and Beyond
- Creating a Safe Place – Legal Obligation
- Understanding Labels – Helpful or Hindrance
- Resources for GSA Advisors
- Mindfulness and Meditation Practices for an Equitable, Emotionally Safe Classroom
- Coming Out Again and Again
- Ideas to Transform Your School Culture
- The Superhero Courage of Being LGBTQ+
- Moonlight Movie Dialogue
- Create an LGBTQ+ Friendly Environment
- Building an Equity Team
- Trump Administration Dialogue
As a teacher at Riverdale High School, where I’ve served as GSA advisor for the past six years, I find the CTA GLBT Issues Conference to be a most valuable resource regarding best practices and policies that protect and support students who identify as LGBT+. Over the past several years, I have convinced eight other teachers from my school to attend this conference, hoping to spread the wealth of information to more educators and promote a school environment that is a positive one for all. Every teacher I know who has attended this event has been very glad they did. I wish ALL California teachers were aware of this conference’s value. Spread the word! Details at links below.