SPSP Statement on Annual Convention in Georgia
The 2022 Annual Convention was held a few short months ago, and our staff and volunteers are already preparing for next year's event, in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to preparing submissions portals, working with vendors, and all the details needed for a successful conference, we are also monitoring the public health conditions and state legislation.
SPSP finalizes contracts for our Annual Convention several years in advance. When selecting meeting destinations, SPSP has a variety of factors to consider and legislation that does not align with SPSP's core values of diversity and inclusion is a priority in the decision-making process. However, local conditions can change quickly. Over the past several months, there has been thoughtful discussion and debate among SPSP leadership about hosting the 2023 Annual Convention in Atlanta, given recent legislation in the state of Georgia. In deciding to remain in Atlanta, SPSP considered our responsibility to advocate for change as a scientific organization dedicated to diversity and equity, the political and financial consequences of participating in a boycott of Georgia, the potential effectiveness of a boycott in creating changes in legislation, and what the experts in Georgia are saying. We also considered other ways in which SPSP can support Diversity and Equity.
What to Know About the Recent Legislation
- SB 202 restricts access to early voting sites and ballot drop boxes, disproportionately disenfranchising communities of color
- HB 1084 is currently awaiting the governor's signature, does not ban transgender athletes' participation in school sports, but grants the Georgia High School Association the authority to determine eligibility.
What Experts in Georgia Are Saying
- Former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, U.S. Senators Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, as well as Stacey Abrams and Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of the King Center and daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have each spoken out in opposition of boycotts of the city, highlighting the economic impact on minority communities and calling on organizations like SPSP to come to Georgia and advocate against voter suppression and anti-transgender legislation.
- Georgia Equality, an organization that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people in the state, published a thoughtful analysis of this legislation and its ramifications.
- Atlanta's new mayor, Andre Dickens, has emphasized his commitment to supporting LGBTQIA+ residents, workers, and visitors. The city also has a comprehensive set of non-discrimination laws, which prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination by business establishments, by commercial housing agents, and by service providers in Atlanta.
Supporting Diversity and Equity in Georgia
- In 2021, SPSP joined over a dozen scientific societies with plans to host events in Georgia to sign a letter published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that expressed concern over this legislation
- We will coordinate with the city's Convention & Visitors Bureau to identify opportunities for SPSP to make a positive impact through advocacy.
- Our members can look to advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, Fair Fight, Georgia Equality, as well as the National Center for Civil and Human Rights' Campaign for Equal Dignity, to learn more about making an individual impact in Georgia
Changing the location of our Annual Convention would have profound economic effects on hospitality workers struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thirty-four percent of hospitality industry workers in Georgia are Black and 17 percent are Hispanic or Latino—groups which will be harmed by the voting rights legislation in the state. After considering these factors and the perspectives of social justice advocates in the state, SPSP will hold the Annual Convention in Atlanta as planned.
We welcome your ideas on how we can best move forward to support initiatives that protect and advocate for all people in Georgia—including many of our friends, members, and colleagues.
Laura A. King, President
Monica Biernat, Past President
Dolores Albarracin, President Elect
Camille Johnson, Secretary-Treasurer
Jennifer Howell, Convention Committee Chair
Rachel Puffer, Executive Director