ACR’s 2017 Annual Conference and Discriminatory Laws in Texas
The Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) is aware the Texas Legislature enacted a law in June 2017 that perpetuates discrimination toward individuals that do not follow a heterosexual lifestyle. The board is distressed that communities across our nation continue to enact legislation that reinforces discrimination. ACR strongly believes in diversity, equity, and inclusion as core principles that aid our mission. ACR intentionally integrates diversity and equity throughout our organizational structure. Additionally, ACR promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion as critical components that strengthen our field by aiding our ability to create an inclusive culture that is empowered to constructively engage in conflict. As we reflected upon our response to this issue, it was determined that the 2017 annual conference would remain in Dallas for the following reasons:
First and foremost, the annual conference brings together experts in conflict engagement from around the world. This provides a prime platform for engaging in dialogue about the current issues that we face within our communities. With the environment we are currently experiencing, the Board believes the opportunity is optimal for addressing constructive ways to confront legislation that legitimizes discrimination. This goes beyond the law enacted in Texas to include any proposed legislation where discriminatory practices are reinforced.
Since we will be in Dallas for ACR 2017, the Board determined it would be important to dedicate time each day of the conference to engage in dialogue about issues related to discriminatory legislation. Therefore, we are setting aside time on Wednesday for a General Assembly around the issues. We will also make space during the concurrent sessions on Thursday and Friday specifically for these conversations. Our Saturday morning schedule currently includes the opportunity to engage in an open space format that allows for conversation about emergent topics of interest to our members. We anticipated this would be a natural fit for providing an opportunity to engage in conversation around these issues as well.
The secondary, yet still significant, reason for maintaining our presence in Dallas relates to the logistical and financial challenges we would face as an Association. Conference sites are determined years in advance and contracts are signed at that point that put financial pressures on carrying through with that contract. With only months of lead time, the change of venue would be difficult to accomplish and cancelling the conference would likely lead to a financial hit that would compromise ACR’s ability to fulfill our mission or adequately serve our membership going forward. However, as future conferences are planned and contracts are signed, the ability to respond to issues like this will be considered as decisions are made. In addition to this level of mindfulness as we make decisions, the Board is crafting a formal resolution that denounces the creation of discriminatory legislation.
The Board looks forward to seeing our members at our annual conference and welcomes questions, comments, or suggestions in regard to this issue. You may send along any messages to President@acrnet.org and I will make sure the messages are considered. If you have any proposals or suggestions for programming to fill the dedicated slots we identified to engage in this dialogue, please feel free to send a message as well. I will see you in Dallas. Please follow #acrdallas2017 to stay up to date on programming for the conference.
Association for Conflict Resolution
Memories from the 2016 Conference