We’d like to take just a minute and update everyone on our progress since we issued our original statement regarding HB2. At that time, we made a commitment to continue taking actions to ensure a safe and accommodating environment for everyone, and we meant it.
Just a few of the actions taken include:
- As soon as the legislation was introduced, passed, and signed into law in a single day, we immediately communicated with the Raleigh Convention Center, the site of the conference. We wanted to ensure gender neutral restrooms would be available to all attendees and to do everything in our power to ensure it. We are happy and proud to say they absolutely will be. The Convention Center has guaranteed us of this and the team there has gone above and beyond to ensure a safe and accommodating environment for everyone during the conference.
- We have met with the Convention & Visitors Bureau and are working with them to confirm all locations we use for the conference have policies in place that ensure safety and are accommodating. Most, if not all, are private businesses (The Convention Center is the exception, addressed in bullet point #1 above) and absolutely should since they may establish their own restroom policies, per the Governor’s order 6 days ago. We are working diligently to ensure this is the case and we will only host at locations where it is.
- We continue to meet with and speak to everyone we can to address the legislation and any remedies that might be available. We will continue to do this at every opportunity.
Also, although many have asked, relocating the event is not an option for 2016 because of agreements that have been signed months and months in advance, many with minimum expenditure requirements, etc. Although we don’t mean to sound self-serving in any way, this is an unfortunate reality and the way these things work when planning large conferences.
Finally, we very humbly ask that people and companies refrain from boycotting the conference, if at all possible. We completely understand the reasons for doing so, please keep in mind this will truly hurt the conference, the community, the city, and everyone else that works so hard to deliver a world-class event whose views the legislation does not represent.
We sincerely hope everyone with an interest will consider attending ATO 2016, and we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure an inclusive and accessible event with world-class content. We made that commitment four years ago and will stand by it moving forward.
With sincere respect,
The ATO team