Washington, DC Chapter

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DC/SLA Board Addresses SLA HQ Board’s Motion on Moving 2018 Conference Out of North Carolina

By the DC/SLA Board

The DC SLA board fully supports the National SLA board’s recent motion to ask SLA’s management company to consider alternatives to holding the 2018 SLA Annual Conference in its current location in Charlotte, North Carolina, because of recent state legislation rolling back anti-discriminatory laws and protections.

The DC SLA board further asks that, as the management company and the National Board continue to explore this issue, they place paramount importance on our responsibility to protect the safety and well-being of all our members, with particular attention paid to members of the LBGT community and others who may face danger and prejudice if forced by obligations to our association to come to an area made hostile by discriminatory policies.  It is important to note that there are many members of our association who are directly affected by the state’s recent legislation, as the bill rolls back not only Charlotte’s public bathroom ordinances, but any local or municipal nondiscriminatory legislation in North Carolina, affecting any protected class of people.

We also believe that, particularly in light of recent declines in membership, it is of utmost importance to the health of our association to continue to provide a warm and welcoming environment to the widest range of information professionals.

Finally, we also agree with those who point out that a boycott of all North Carolina businesses seems to strike with disproportionate force at those people who are also most adversely affected by North Carolina’s new, more discriminatory legislation.  Charlotte itself, for example, is not only the city from which SLA is considering pulling its 2018 conference, but also the very municipality whose progressive antidiscrimination law was the catalyst for the state government’s legislative retaliation.

The DC SLA Board therefore strongly encourages the National Board, the management company, and our fellow chapters to consider positive moves we can make right now, in 2016, to support the LGBT community and others in North Carolina.  Suggestions have included free access for North Carolina librarians to SLA-produced webinars to compensate for the inability to attend local conferences; sponsoring travel stipends to assist North Carolina librarians to attend the 2018 conference if it is relocated; and online patronage of independent LGBT and progressive bookstores in North Carolina to make up for reduced foot traffic sales.

As befits our diverse membership, the Board received a number of responses to our call for comments which represented a wide range of views, and anonymized versions of these responses will be sent to the National Board with this statement. Above all, the DC SLA Board hopes that the Board and the management company will be able to take this as an opportunity not simply to stand against discrimination, but to highlight the diverse and welcoming nature of our community of information professionals, and showcase the ability of dedicated information professionals to work for a more equal society.

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