White House mum on education union’s proposal to change ‘mother’ to ‘birthing parent,’ defends First Lady, VP
The White House refused to comment on the National Education Association’s proposal this week to replace the word “mother” with “birthing parent,” while defending First Lady Jill Biden as a “proud” member of the labor union and Vice President Kamala Harris for attending the union’s annual meeting, where the policy change was introduced.
When asked for comment on the proposal, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “So, we’re not the NEA and I would refer you to their team about that particular.”
First Lady Jill Biden, a teacher, is a member of the NEA. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the National Education Association 2022 Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly at the McCormick Convention Center in Chicago on Tuesday.
“The first lady is a proud member of the NEA,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that she was “not going to speak about an organization’s policy or change of policy.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during a White House daily press briefing at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House.
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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“I am not their spokesperson — not something that I am going to do,” she said. “Yes, the vice president was there on Tuesday. She spoke at the NEA and when they did, when they did regular order, when they did their regular business, she left.”
Jean-Pierre added, “So she was not part of that discussion.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, right, waves with Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, at the National Education Association 2022 annual meeting and representative assembly in Chicago, Illinois, on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Harris highlighted educators role in communities across the country and the administration’s investments to support students and educators, according to the White House. Photographer: Tannen Maury/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Tannen Maury/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
When pressed on whether the president felt a proposal such as that was a priority, Jean-Pierre replied, “Look, this is a policy change that is not something that I can speak to. I refer you to NEA.”
NEA’s resolutions, called new business items (NBI), represent the teachers’ union’s opinions and beliefs. Many resolutions were voted by the Representative Assembly, comprised of 6,000 educators who attended the meeting in Chicago and virtually this week. The resolution on the language change, though, was ultimately not brought to a vote.
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the National Education Association 2022 annual meeting and representative assembly in Chicago, Illinois, on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. Harris highlighted educators role in communities across the country and the administration’s investments to support students and educators, according to the White House. Photographer: Tannen Maury/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Tannen Maury/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“Using this contract language, members need not worry about how a Board of Education/solicitor defines ‘maternity leave,’ ‘mother,’ and/or ‘father’; the language is an inclusive reflection of how LGBTQIA+ members build families,” the proposed resolution said.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden applaud a student as she demonstrates her project during a visit to Yorktown Elementary School, Monday, May 3, 2021, in Yorktown, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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New Business Items (NBIs) are proposed by the union’s delegates. It takes 50 delegate sponsors to bring the NBI to the RA floor for debate and then to a vote, according to Education Week.
The NEA, this week, told Fox News Digital that every year, NEA members submit New Business Items “concerning a wide range of issues.”
“Some are intimately tied to NEA operations and others reflect policy positions delegates would like the organization and its state-level affiliates to take,” the NEA said. “NEA is committed to democratic processes and open debate.”
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“These values are fundamental not just to NEA’s vision as a union but to our functioning as a multiracial democracy,” the union said, noting that the proposal, NBI 63, “was not considered by the 2022 NEA RA.”
Fox News’ Hannah Grossman contributed to this report.