AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, on June 15, 2020, in a landmark decision for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) persons, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employment discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and thus is illegal; and

WHEREAS, in October 2019, the American Federation of Teachers; the National Education Association; the National School Boards Association; and AASA, the School Superintendents Association, filed a joint amicus brief in support of the gay and transgender employees; and

WHEREAS, President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice supported employment discrimination against LGBTQ people when it filed an amicus brief in support of the three employers who fired the three employees because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; and

WHEREAS, AFT President Randi Weingarten released a statement that asks, “In the face of an administration that has relentlessly sowed hate, fear and division, America finds itself at a crossroads. Will we succumb to bigotry and cruelty, or will we choose to value diversity, tolerance, human dignity and equal rights?”; and

WHEREAS, the court’s ruling that Title VII protections include a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity strengthens existing federal protections for LGBTQ people and ends legalized employment discrimination; and

WHEREAS, the failure of 28 U.S. states to enact statewide anti-discrimination employment laws that cover “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” is now moot; the bullying, harassment and violence against LGBTQ people is not; and

WHEREAS, eight U.S. states continue to have laws that restrict how teachers can talk about LGBTQ issues in the classroom, including prohibiting portraying homosexuality as a “positive alternative lifestyle” and forcing teachers to teach “homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public”; and

WHEREAS, LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide[1] than their heterosexual peers; are more likely to be kicked out of their homes; and LGBTQ youth report[2] high levels of harassment (verbal—70 percent, shoving—29 percent and assaults—12 percent), feel unsafe—60 percent; avoiding school functions—75 percent; avoiding gender-segregated spaces such as locker rooms—43 percent, and bathrooms—40 percent; and hearing homophobic or transphobic remarks (“faggot,” “dyke,” “tranny,” “he/she”—88-95 percent); and

WHEREAS, research shows that (1) employing LGBTQ educators, (2) the existence of Gender-Sexuality Alliances (GSAs, aka Gay-Straight Alliances) in schools, and (3) anti-discrimination policies and laws significantly reduce the negative experiences of LGBTQ youth; and

WHEREAS, schools that have GSAs, including the pioneering GSA at Brashear High School in Pittsburgh, completely change the climate of schools making them safe spaces for LGBTQ students:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will provide support and resources to the leadership of AFT locals to engage local school district officials in the urgent need to recruit, retain and respect LGBTQ educators; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will work with its locals to provide support and resources to work with school district human resources departments on appropriate plans to recruit, retain and respect LGBTQ educators; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will encourage school districts to support expansion and increased visibility of the schools’ GSAs; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT is committed to ensuring that the nation’s LGBTQ youth are valued; have a place in our classrooms; and deserve the opportunity of a diverse, full and safe education.

[1] Kann, Laura, Tim McManus, et al., “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2017.” MMWR Surveillance Summaries, vol. 68, no. 8, June 15, 2018, pp. 24–25.

[2] Kosciw, J.G., Greytak, E.A., Zongrone, A.D., Clark, C.M., & Truong, N.L. (2018). “The 2017 National School Climate Survey: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youth in Our Nation’s Schools.” New York: GLSEN.