Leaked materials from the California Teacher’s Association Conference (CTA) in Palm Springs have shown how teachers are attempting to subvert parents on their children’s inclusion in LGBTQ+ clubs, and tactics for tracking their internet use.
The documentation and audio files from California’s largest teacher’s union meeting at CTA were sent to Abigail Shrier, who confirmed their authenticity with three participants from the conference.
The event was held from October 29th – 31st, 2021, and entitled “2021 LGBTQ+ Issues Conference, Beyond the Binary: Identity and Imagining Possibilities.”
Topics ranged from advising teachers on best practices for subverting parents, handling conservative communities, and discussions of school principals of gender identity and sexual orientation.
The workshops provided at the conference encouraged teachers to “create a safe environment that fosters bravery to explore sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression,” while others taught teachers on how to form Gay-Straight Alliance clubs and other forms of LGBTQ+ clubs for middle schoolers.
Such clubs were promoted as answering questions on how to deal with “meddlesome parents” who might not want their child participating in such a club. One speaker noted that the clubs are “not official” so do not hold a roster of members or keep any records.
In the audio files, a Buena Vista Middle School teacher and LGBTQ+ club leader, Lori Caldeira, described how the lack of record-keeping allows for a legal loophole so she can lie to parents about their children’s whereabouts and attendance of such clubs.
Another middle school teacher named Kelly Baraki noted that she refers to her club “The Equity Club” or “You Be You” rather than GSA in order to further prevent parents from knowing what their children are attending.
Bakari spoke of mitigating any decline in LGBTQ+ club membership:
“…we started to try and identify kids. When they were doing virtual learning – we totally stalked what they were doing on Google, when they weren’t doing school work.”
Shrier further revealed that speakers at the conference were proud to share their tactics for tracking their student’s Google searches and other internet activity. Bakari described how she and fellow teachers, “make note of those kids and the things that they bring up with each other in chats or email or whatever.”
Others described eavesdropping on hallway conversations to target sixth grades, who were then sent personal invites to LGBTQ gatherings and clubs. This information was then withheld from the participants parents.
Bakari said, “we 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?”
In order to create trust with her students, Caldeira said that she volunteered to read the morning announcements. She notes that this allows her to “control the information that goes home… this year, students have been allowed to put openly LGBT content in our morning announcement slides.”
Caldeira went on to describe how the principal of her school “flinches” because of the three-member team the teacher has assembled in her middle school: two “non-binary” and one “fluid” student.
When it comes to handling parental push-back, Caldeira and Bakari described doing a “mind-trick on our sixth graders,” wherein the anti-bullying presentations they provide will detail the gender stuff first. They hope that this will ensure their students go home and discuss the latter aspects of the presentation with their parents.
Both teachers went so far as to mock a parent who pushed back on this type of information being provided to their child. When another parent pushed back, Caldeira’s principal told the parent to send their child to a private school, which she described as a “win.”
Caldeira noted that she and her colleagues have “acted with great integrity in the past several years that we have run [their LGBTQ+ clubs]. We never crossed a line. We’ve wanted to, but we never have.”