Days at the NEA Representative Assembly are long for Connecticut delegates, but that doesn’t stop them from participating in evening activities including the Human and Civil Rights Awards Dinner and NEA LGBTQ+ Caucus Robert Birle Memorial Dinner. Thirty CEA members attended the always popular LGBTQ+ Caucus Dinner this year to honor award winners and celebrate their achievements.
This year’s event honored Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the landmark Obergefell vs. Hodges Supreme Court case that established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, with the LGBTQ+ Caucus Paul Sathrum Role Model Award.
“I love attending the LGBTQ+ caucus dinner because I love going to an event that is inclusive, welcoming, and safe,” said Killingly Education Association President Nicola Able. “As an ally, it is important for me to listen to the stories of the award winners and also celebrate them. It’s also just so much fun! Once the dance floor opens up, there is nothing quite like the energy in that room! It is pure joy.”
The NEA LGBTQ+ Caucus was originally founded in the 1980s by a handful of NEA Members seeking to provide professional support for gay and lesbian colleagues. Today the caucus continues to work to provide LGBTQ+ teachers, education support professionals, and students with safe schools free of anti-LGBTQ+ bias and intolerance and to provide sound education programs for all students.
“I had planned to attend the LGBTQ+ caucus dinner for a number of reasons—to support the important work of the caucus, to celebrate with like-minded unionists, and to reconnect with members I haven’t seen in person for a few years,” said Stratford Education Association President Michael Fiorello.
“The dinner was so much more than this, however,” he continued. “I was deeply touched to hear the moving and inspirational story of Jim Obergefell. I am a married gay man, and I owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Obergefell. We can all learn from his deep love and tenacity. To hear from Mr. Obergefell after the Dobbs decision and its reversal of Roe and frontal attack on the right to privacy was bittersweet indeed—but it was also empowering.”