California’s largest teachers’ union recently held a conference called “2021 LGBTQ+ Issues Conference, Beyond the Binary: Identity & Imagining Possibilities” which held a number of workshops discussing approaches for recruiting kids into LGBT clubs, particularly in conservative areas or when parents are likely to object, according to leaked audio obtained by journalist Abigail Shrier.
The oftentimes covert suggested tactics included strategies such as surveilling students’ Google searches and slipping references to gender and sexuality in school announcements and assemblies before parents have a chance to object.
On one instance, the speaker even mocked a parent who had objected that she had to explain to her child about same-sex relationships before she had intended to.
“I know, so sad, right? Sorry for you, you had to do something hard! Honestly, your twelve-year-old probably knew all that, right?” the speaker quipped to attendees, according to audio obtained by an attendee.
“Plus, I hate to say this, but thank you CTA—but I have tenure! You can’t fire me for running a GSA. And so, you can be mad, but you can’t fire me for it. CTA has made it very clear that they are devoted to human rights and equity. They provide us with these sources, these resources and tools,” speaker Lori Caldeira said during the workshop, “How we run a ‘GSA’ in Conservative Communities,” according to audio obtained by an attendee.
During a separate workshop, “Queering in the Middle,” aimed at running GSAs for middle school students, Caldeira reportedly noted that one tactic to subvert parents was to keep no roster on group membership and lie to parents who ask if their child has been attending meetings.
“Because we are not official—we have no club rosters, we keep no records,” she said. “In fact, sometimes we don’t really want to keep records because if parents get upset that their kids are coming? We’re like, ‘Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe they came?’ You know, we would never want a kid to get in trouble for attending if their parents are upset.”
The conference was designed to help the union’s members “have the courage to create a safe environment that fosters bravery to explore sexual orientation, gender identity and expression,” according to the precis of a talk given by fifth grade teacher, C. Scott Miller, Shrier reported.
During another workshop given by Caldeira and fellow middle school teacher Kelly Baraki, the latter discussed how she would keep an eye on kids’ Google activity during distance learning to keep tabs on students that she might want to recruit for GSAs.
“So we started to brainstorm at the end of the 2020 school year, what are we going to do? We got to see some kids in-person at the end of last year, not many but a few,” Baraki explained. “So we started to try and identify kids. When we were doing our virtual learning – we totally stalked what they were doing on Google, when they weren’t doing school work. One of them was googling ‘Trans Day of Visibility.’ And we’re like, ‘Check.’ We’re going to invite that kid when we get back on campus. Whenever they follow the Google Doodle links or whatever, right, we make note of those kids and the things that they bring up with each other in chats or email or whatever,”
She added that teachers can also “use our observations of kids in the classroom—conversations that we hear—to personally invite students. Because that’s really the way we kinda get the bodies in the door. Right? They need sort of a little bit of an invitation.”
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