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Human Rights Department

The Human Rights Department unites all aspects of both unionism and public education, and supports the CTA Mission Statement and Strategic Plan. The work of the department uses transformative learning strategies with a focus on unconscious bias as a tool to look at both individual behavior and institutional practice. Ultimately, the intent is to create a more equitable union and public education system by helping to change behavior and practices that perpetuate inequality.

The department is an integral part of CTA and the union movement. Human rights issues are at the core of all components of public education, including student learning and achievement, school culture, teacher quality, and parent and community engagement.


Social Justice

Social Justice encompasses educational, economic, and political arenas. Social Justice is a commitment to equity and fairness in treatment and access to opportunities and resources for everyone, recognizing that all is not equal. Social Justice means that we work actively to eradicate structural and institutional racism, classism, linguicism, ableism, ageism, heterosexism, religious bias and xenophobia. Social Justice means that we, as educators are responsible for the collective good of society, not simply our own individual interests.

Civil Rights in Education

CTA believes that all students should have equal access to a high-quality public education free from discrimination or bias reflecting their economic status, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, status or other characteristics. To further protect students, their confidentiality must be maintained. With the same care and caution, the confidentiality of school employees must be respected and guarded.

Every student attending a public school in California is entitled to equal access to all educational opportunities. This access shall not be denied because of gender discrimination, ethnicity, language, special needs, immigration status, or socio-economic status. The goal of public education is to provide students with the skills necessary to become responsible and healthy members of society.

The nation and the state must eliminate by statute and practice, barriers of race, color, national origin, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, marital status, economic status and genetic characteristics that prevent some individuals, adult or juvenile, from exercising rights enjoyed by others. These rights include liberties decreed in common law, the Constitution, and statutes of the United States.

The rights to privacy and confidentiality must be guaranteed, including maintaining the confidentiality of student records. Likewise, the privacy of personnel files must be maintained stringently with access by the member and with limited access by those with supervisory responsibility for the member and only for matters covered by the contract or California law.

Immigration policies should guarantee human rights and protect the integrity of the family unit without discrimination; we support immigration policies that keep families together. Regardless of immigration status of students or their parents, every student has the right to a free public education free from harassment. California has always been a place for dreamers and we support safe-haven schools and sanctuary cities that reflect and embrace the diversity of our students and their families, as well as the rich language and cultural assets they bring to our communities.

All public schools must be “choice” schools – schools that offer a quality, first class education. Schools must offer open enrollment or “public schools of choice” for the purpose of creating magnet schools, addressing ethnic or racial balance issues, or providing child care.

Districts should also offer open enrollment for public schools of choice if the plan: 1) does not lead to the privatization of the public schools; 2) reflects the academic and individual educational needs of students; 3) promotes equal educational opportunity for all students and operates in ways that facilitate better racial, ethnic, and socio- economic balances in the public schools; 4) provides adequate resources to ensure quality education programs for every student; 5) and utilizes collective bargaining procedures.

Training Programs and Workshops

Human Rights Department Staff is available to provide customized training and to assist in designing programs that meet the needs of locals, members and students. Contact your local Primary Contact Staff or the Human Rights Staff person for your region.

Recorded Webinars


Ongoing Trainings

An Exploration into SOGI: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Schools
Do you have LGBTQ+ students and/or colleagues? Do you have the courage to create a safe environment that fosters bravery to explore sexual orientation, gender identity and expression? This workshop is a transformative experience into privilege, identity, laws and terms as it applies to SOGI. It may be of particular interest to those who want to foster positive relations and support LGBTQ+ students and colleagues.


LGBTQ+ Leadership Development Program
The program consists of a core of four (4) components that are to be presented in an eight (8) hour workshop sponsored by the service center council or local chapter. Consultation with the Human Rights Department is recommended for assistance in program planning


Ethnic Minority Leadership Development Program
This workshop series was developed by the Minority Leadership Development Program Committee to assist in creating pluralistic leadership within the California Teachers Association. Major goals of this eight-hour program are to promote the value of minority involvement at all levels within CTA and to increase awareness of cultural diversity. 


Women’s Leadership Training Program
Over 70% of the teaching force is made up of women. This leadership training is designed to ensure that women members will be prepared for leadership roles. This training program is presented by a cadre of volunteer CTA members who are specifically trained in the content area.


Supporting Your Chapter’s Equity Work

CTA’s Human Rights Department staff works with locals and school districts to develop a racial and social justice perspective culturally and structurally. Below are some of the concepts that are included in our work: 

  • Anti-Racism
  • Divorcing the Default of Whiteness
  • Empathy
  • Exploring Unconscious Bias
  • Gender Identity
  • Generational Perspectives
  • Forming Partnerships with Parents, Students, and Communities
  • Individual versus Systemic Oppression
  • Intersectionality
  • Matrixes of Bias
  • Power and Privilege
  • Responding to Bias and Bigotry in Schools
  • Restorative Justice
  • Sexism
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Social Justice Curriculum in Your Classroom
  • Supporting Immigrant Students and their Families
  • Trauma
  • White Nationalist and Hate Crimes
  • White Supremacy

Contact the Human Rights Department:

Human Rights Award logo

Awards and Scholarships

Human Rights Awards Program
The CTA Human Rights Awards Program was created to promote the development of programs for the advancement and protection of human and civil rights within CTA. Awards are given annually to CTA Members, Chapters and Service Center Councils.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarship
This CTA scholarship is given in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to encourage ethnic minority students to become educators, school nurses, school counselors or school therapists and to promote professional growth for ethnic minority teachers and ESP members.

César E. Chávez Memorial Education Awards Program
The program provides recognition for educators and their students who demonstrate an understanding of the vision and guiding principles by which César E. Chávez lived his life. The Awards Program will honor the memory of this great man and ensure that the spirit of his work continues in the classrooms of California.

LGBTQ+ Safety in Schools Grant and Scholarship Program in Honor of Guy DeRosa
The California Teachers Association LGBTQ+ Safety in Schools Grant and Scholarship Program in Honor of Guy DeRosa was created to promote human and civil rights by making our public schools safe for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning+ persons.

CTA Scholarships
The CTA Scholarships program offers financial support to California Teachers Association members, dependent children of active members and Student CTA members.


Student CTA

California college students have an opportunity to ensure every child receives the education they deserve; take ownership of their future profession and advocate about things that matter most.

SCTA strives to be a recognized and collaborative organization that inspires and fosters exemplary future leaders in education.

Core Values:

  • Teacher Quality
  • Community Outreach
  • Diversity
  • Advocacy

Future educators can be individual members or create local campus chapters. SCTA is led by a statewide board of student members and is affiliated with the National Education Association Student Program (NEA-SP), the largest united student voice in the nation.


Human Rights Committee
The functions of a Human Rights Committee should include the following objectives:

  • Raising the awareness of the membership to human and civil rights issues through the promotion of good human relations.
  • Offering and encouraging leadership in the development of human rights programs in the Association and in the educational profession.
  • Providing information relevant to human and civil rights issues.
  • Monitoring the involvement and participation of all members (including minorities) in the policy-making process and in all practical operations at all levels of the Chapter.


Civil Rights in Education (CRE) Committee
The Civil Rights in Education Committee studies and recommends policies and procedures for consideration by CTA governance bodies in the following areas:

  • Promotion of positive human relations practices within the profession.
  • Promotion of policies as they relate to human and civil rights in educational perspective.


Racial Equity Affairs Committee (REAC)
The REAC is advisory to the CTA Board of Directors and will:

  • Promote ethnic minority participation in all areas of CTA leadership
  • Monitor ethnic minority representation within the Association as set forth in the governing documents
  • Provide ethnic minority input on CTA membership programs and policies
  • Make specific recommendations to the Board for continuing ethnic minority input into the Association
  • Work toward an inclusive Association that involves and empowers its equity-minded member
  • Advise the Board in addressing the needs of California‘s ethnically diverse student population

Learn more about REAC

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues Advisory Committee (SOGIIAC)
The Board advisory committee on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, intersex, asexual/ally, pansexual, etc., (LGBTQ+) issues will review, comment on and make specific recommendations to the CTA Board of Directors on matters related to sexual orientation and gender identification.

Learn more about SOGIIAC