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We Celebrate LGBTQIA Individuals & Honor Their Accomplishments

As we recognize the inherent dignity and many contributions of LGBTQIA+2S individuals during Pride Month, we especially honor the legacy of those who paved the way for the struggle for queer liberation. We recall the courageous activists, particularly those like Marsha P. Johnson, who fought against police violence toward queer and trans people at the Stonewall riots. We remember individuals like Ruth Ellis, who worked to create communities of care for black queer and trans youth and whose legacy lives on in Detroit’s Ruth Ellis Center. We also acknowledge the intersections of queer activist and labor activism through the incredible work of people like Bayard Rustin (learn more through this video) and the power of our unions in promoting civil rights. For example, in 1970, the AFT was the first labor union in the US to come out against harassment and discrimination against queer workers, and AFT Michigan was first and one of the only labor unions to fight against 2004 ballot attempts against marriage equality. Thanks to the tireless work and sacrifice of so many, we can dedicate this month to celebrating the victories we’ve achieved and the benefits of increased visibility of LGBTQIA+2S people in our families, schools, communities, and in the labor movement itself. 

We must also look forward and recommit ourselves to the intertwined struggle for queer liberation, racial justice and workers’ rights. There is still much work to be done. We know how important it is to have visible leaders from the LGBTQIA+2S community, such as our own AFT president, Randi Weingarten and Michigan’s Attorney General, Dana Nessel. We also know that visibility alone, without organizing and a favorable political context, does not guarantee the expansion of rights and protections of queer, trans, black, brown, and indigenous people. These struggles are connected, and we must take concrete action. Right now, we are witnessing Republican-led attempts across the country and here in Michigan to roll back not only voting rights, but also the rights and protections of queer and trans people. This month is a time to celebrate Pride and also take steps to protect the rights of LGBTQIA+2S workers. Here’s how you can do both:

  • Contribute to our PAC here to help us lift political candidates who support our union and the rights LGBTQIA+2S union members.
  • Attend our upcoming AFT Michigan Pride Picnic! Stay tuned for date/location information. Questions? Want to help with planning? Contact AFT Michigan Field Rep, Erin Lavin she/her) at
  • Come to the next Pride at Work Michigan monthly meeting on Thursday, June 17, 2021, at 6pm via Zoom. Visit to learn more about the chapter. Several AFT Michigan union members are involved! Contact GEOC Treasurer, Jamie McQuaid (They/Them) at, or AFT Michigan Field Rep, Erin Lavin (she/her) at

Final Days for Third Grade Reading Survey

These are the final days for EPIC’s (MSU) Read by Grade Three survey! The survey will close on June 18, 2021. Until then, K-5 superintendents, principals, teachers and literacy coaches or interventionists/ specialists are eligible for the survey through the following link:

Any eligible participant who completes the approximately 25-minute survey will be awarded 5 State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECHs) and will be automatically entered for a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card. Schools that receive a 65% response rate from their teachers can also receive $500 to further their literacy efforts. Please note that participation is voluntary, and all survey responses will be kept strictly confidential. Your Personal Identification Code (PIC) is needed in order to complete the survey and be awarded SCECHs.

EPIC knows this has been an incredibly challenging year, and they want to hear from educators on the impact on early literacy. Policy makers are deliberating on the future of the Read by Grade Three law now, for this school year and beyond. EPIC’s year one report has been used to inform these efforts, and they relied heavily on responses from the survey:

If you have any questions about the survey, please do not hesitate to contact And thanks to everyone who has already completed or will complete the survey.

Governor Proposes Expanded School Aid Fund Budget

Governor Whitmer has proposed an expanded school aid budget due to the unanticipated increased revenue from the most recent budget estimating conference. Her expanded budget includes $1.7 billion in one time funds and $900 million in ongoing improvements:

  • 4% increase in per pupil foundation allowance, allowing for $123-$326 per pupil
  • $262 million equity payment to close funding gaps
  • $350 million for declining enrollment
  • Weighted formula to ensure equitable distribution, including:
    • $120.4 million for at-risk funding
    • $60 million for Special Education
    • $12.2 million for English Language Learners
    • $15 million for career/tech
    • $300,000 for small, rural and isolated districts
    • $450 million for school psychologist, social workers and nurses
    • $50 million in debt relief for mental health professionals in high needs districts
    • $50 million for student mental health
    • $41.5 million for literacy coaches
    • $500 million for school infrastructure/repair
    • $6 million for pre-employment training, qualified professionals to support special education students and remote learning library

We will advocate for these increases with the Michigan Legislature as they negotiate a final budget with the Governor.

Contribute to the GEOC Survivors of Sexual Violence Fund

The Graduate Employees Organizing Committee, AFT Local 6123, founded the Survivors of Sexual Violence Fund (SSVF) in Summer 2020 as a mutual aid fund to support survivors of sexual violence among graduate employees at Wayne State. The creation of the fund was inspired by similar initiatives at other universities across the United States and Canada. Approximately 1 in 5 women, 1 in 2 trans individuals, and 1 in 17 men, will experience sexual violence at some point in their life.  

The fund is open to anyone in the GEOC bargaining unit who has experienced any form of sexual violence. There are no time or location constraints. The funding committee relies on a system of good faith and does not place the burden of proof on survivors. The funds can be used for services such as healthcare, therapy, counseling, legal fees, or other self-care practices. 

During its inaugural application cycle (January 1, 2021 – February 15, 2021) GEOC allotted $5,000 to the fund in order to distribute $1,000 to 5 individual applicants. The SSVF Committee received many more applications than they were able to fund, showing a clear need for this specific type of mutual aid. 

AFT Michigan has contributed to help replenish the fund and we hope locals and members will as well. To donate, you can click this link or go to

Wayne State Alum and Journalist Danny Fenster Detained in Myanmar

On May 24, Wayne State University alumni and managing editor for Frontier Myanmar, was detained at Yangon International Airport and is reportedly being held at Insein Prison in Myanmar. Since the military coup in February, nearly forty journalists have been detained by the government for reporting on the protests following the military’s seizing of power following the election of Ms Suu Kyi and the NLD party. Since his arrest and imprisonment, many organizations have spoken up in his support, including Wayne State University, members of Congress, and the U.S. State Department (thank you to the Wayne State GEOC for bringing the issue to our attention).

If you would like to help, Danny’s family has requested that people contact their local U.S. representatives and Senators and sign this petition calling on President Biden to secure his release.

GEU Is Hiring!  

The Graduate Employees Union at Michigan State University (GEU at MSU) is seeking a full-time Organizer to build membership and strengthen member engagement. GEU represents approximately 1300 teaching assistants at Michigan State University. Organizers will report to GEU’s Core Team, and will follow an organizing plan determined by GEU leadership and staff. The Organizer will be paid a salary of $30,420 for work performed, which will average 30 hours per week, beginning June 21st. This position includes health care with vision and dental, a 3% safe harbor contribution to a 401k, and funding for professional development.

See the listing at

Upcoming Professional Development 

Celebrating Immigrants

Explore this all-new curated collection to celebrate the journeys of immigrants to the U.S. and to welcome immigrant students.

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Celebrating Pride Month: Advocating for Equality

Looking for ways to celebrate Pride Month with your students and community? Support and celebrate LGBTQ students and inspire meaningful advocacy with these free lesson plans, activities and resources. The Share My Lesson team is featuring these free LGBTQ History Month resources to not only advocate for students and their well-being, but to ultimately raise awareness in schools and communities by building mutual understanding and acceptance. 

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Why Do Pronouns Matter?

Learn about the evolution of pronoun and name use and how using the wrong name or pronoun can feel disrespectful to all, especially those who are transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary.

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Teaching Juneteenth – Learning for Justice

Learn more about the history and celebration of June 19, and get strategies for using this anniversary to discuss a complex part of American history with students.

Learn More

In solidarity, 

David Hecker, President

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