St. Paul Federation of Educators (SPFE) is boycotting the National Education Association’s (NEA) annual meeting, which will be held in Florida, claiming Florida is hostile towards minority and LGBTQ communities.
The SPFE urged the NEA to cancel the 2023 Representative Assembly (RA) or convert to a virtual format. The RA is where delegates annually vote on issues that will nationally impact education and the teachers unions.
SPFE decided to forgo the conference, saying it will not spend member dues to support commerce in Florida. They cited the NAACP travel advisory that warns “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.” The travel advisory goes into effect July 1.
In an email to members, SPFE President Leah VanDassor wrote, “In addition to being unsafe, it is also unethical for us, proud union members committed to repairing past harms resulting from systems of oppression, to spend member dues to support commerce in a state that does not value public educators, particularly those who are BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+, especially since the NEA has chosen…to hold the NEA RA in the state of Florida long after it became clear the level of hate some Florida lawmakers have for people that do not look like, or love like, them.”
In addition to the travel advisory, the SPFE cited newly passed Florida laws HB1403 and HB 1521 which they say are “transphobic.” HB1403 allows medical professionals to opt out of providing treatments that contradict their personal ethical or religious beliefs, and HB1521 requires people to use bathrooms that correspond with their sex at birth.
The SPFE also had issues with Florida law SB1718, which the union claims is anti-immigration. The law says anyone who transports an undocumented immigrant can be charged with a felony.
The group said it will use whatever funds it can recoup by not attending the conference to support legislative efforts that back minority and LGBTQ union members in Florida and across the country.
“As you know, our unions are democratic institutions,” the email said.
The union is far from “democratic” and is hypocritical, according to a St. Paul teacher who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation.
“The union’s position towards Florida is totally off base and completely biased,” he said. “The unions are not ‘democratic’ if you disagree with their narrative.”
The anonymous teacher told Alpha News that he believes Minnesota is headed toward a decline. “Gov. DeSantis is hands down the most popular governor in the country. He’s done a lot for teachers in Florida by removing the mandate to have dues taken out of paychecks. The unions are afraid that he will do this nationally if he’s elected president,” the teacher said.
The SPFE is urging St. Paul teachers to show solidarity with their union by signing a petition in support the union’s position.
Sheila Qualls is an award-winning journalist and former civilian editor of an Army newspaper. Prior to joining Alpha News, she was a Christian Marriage and Family columnist at Patheos.com and a personal coach. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, the MOPS blog, Grown and Flown, and The Christian Post. She speaks nationally on issues involving faith and family.