As many of you are aware, the Texas State Legislature has called a special summer session and is considering a bill that would compel some people to use public restrooms that do not correspond to their gender identity. If the bill currently being discussed passes through the Texas legislature, it will prevent municipalities from passing anti-discrimination ordinances designed to protect transgender people. The SSA Board believes that this bill is discriminatory and contrary to the SSA Statement on Diversity and Inclusion (https://societyofsouthwestarchivists.wildapricot.org/SSA-Diversity-Statement).
The SSA board issued an official response that is being sent to the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the house stating the organization’s opposition to this piece of legislation. The response also states that should the bill become law, SSA will seriously reconsider holding future annual meetings in Texas. A copy of this letter is available on the SSA website and social media channels, and Texas members of SSA are welcome to use any or all the language contained in the response should they choose to contact their individual representatives.
We also wanted to assure membership that we are taking steps to make sure that the next annual meeting, scheduled to be held in San Antonio, TX in May 2018, will be as open, inclusive, and welcoming as possible, regardless of the fate of this legislation. We know that other organizations, such as the Society of American Archivists, are investigating moving future meetings out of the state. It is not possible for SSA to cancel or move the San Antonio meeting at this point. If SSA pulled out of the contract today, it would cost the organization $50,770.40, which is more than double SSA’s entire annual budget. In light of this, SSA will honor the contract and have the meeting as scheduled. Also, with more than half of the SSA membership comprised of archivists in Texas, it is not the intent or desire of SSA to abandon that part of the membership because of the ill-conceived legislation being considered in the Texas Legislature.
The Local Arrangements Committee, in cooperation with the Diversity Committee, is already planning alternative arrangements for those SSA members who may be negatively impacted by this legislation. They are also investigating different ideas to foster discussions about how we as individuals and as an organization can respond to discriminatory legislation that may arise in our region in the future.
If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the SSA Board through the “Contact” page on the SSA Website.
President, Society of Southwest Archivists