As the AECT 2023 Convention approaches, I am faced with a deeply personal and challenging decision. After thoughtful consideration, I must publicly declare that I will not be attending the conference in person this year. This will mark the first time since 2015, apart from the COVID-related cancellation, that I have abstained from attending.
This decision is not a rejection of AECT as an organization, nor is it meant to diminish the sincere efforts being made to ensure a positive and safe experience for attendees. I appreciate AECT’s commitment to working with hotel management and security, reaffirming academic freedom, providing information about local and minority-owned businesses, and updating ethics policies. These efforts are commendable and reflect the organization’s dedication to its membership.
However, my decision not to attend stems from my unshakeable solidarity and respect for my friends and colleagues who are part of queer BIPOC, international, and other marginalized communities. Florida’s recent legislation and the political climate create an environment that I view as openly hostile to these individuals. The state’s restrictions on personal freedoms, including potential legal consequences for something as fundamental as using the bathroom of one’s gender identity, create barriers to inclusion that are unacceptable.
My stance is driven by my belief in standing up for those who are unfairly targeted. It’s about more than the immediate logistics of the conference; it’s about the broader message we send by choosing a location that will marginalize and exclude people I deeply care about, simply for being who they are. I want to emphasize that I recognize and appreciate the hard work and good intentions of AECT’s Board and Convention Planners. Their efforts to create an inclusive space should not go unnoticed. However, these actions do not mitigate the core concerns that guide my decision.
I have cherished my time at AECT conventions, and I will deeply miss the in-person interactions and learning opportunities. My decision is not necessarily a call for others to follow my lead but a reflection of my personal conviction and my commitment to the principles of inclusion, respect, and empathy. While I will not be in attendance in Florida, I hope that the 2023 Convention is a success, and that my decision sparks reflection and thoughtful dialogue about the complex interplay between our professional gatherings and the broader social and political landscapes in which we operate.