LGBT+ Educators hold largest-ever union conference

Report from National Education Union LGBT+ Educators Conference

by Janine Booth, delegate

Published in Solidarity 698

Last weekend (2-4 February), 350 lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and other non-straight education workers gathered in Birmingham for the National Education Union’s largest ever LGBT+ Educators’ Conference.

Most of the conference was a series of workshops run by rank-and-file activists – which covered issues including industrial action, history of protest, behaviour, union organising, neurodiversity and many more – and caucuses, which enabled different sections and identities to meet and discuss their issues and concerns.

Executive representative Kacey de Groot and new general Secretary Daniel Kebede both addressed delegates. Notably, Daniel responded to a question by expressing full support for trans rights and regret for comments he had made in the past.

The conference debated and passed four motions. The most contentious was the motion on Palestine, where an amendment supporting Standing Together was defeated following a speech denouncing it for not supporting BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) or the ‘right to return’. Some delegates were also concerned that the motion called on the union to work with Muslim LGBT+ groups but not Jewish LGBT+ groups. Nevertheless, the motion was passed by a large majority.

Another motion condemned the government’s continued persecution of trans and gender-questioning students through its guidance for schools, which explicitly denies students a right to socially transition through, for example, changing names.

A further motion addressed the inadequacy of the union’s recording of members’ equality information. Delegates chose this motion to go to the union’s annual conference, which, if it passes, will require the union to change its membership forms so give members more options for how they identify themselves, without having to label themselves as ‘other’!

The final motion drew unanimous and enthusiastic support. Noting that this year is the fortieth anniversary of the start of the miners’ strike, it called for the NEU to help local activists organise showings of the film Pride, with speakers from Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, in order to ensure that the new generation of LGBT+ activists knows the story of one of the turning points in the fight for LGBT+ liberation and understands that we win through working-class struggle.

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