Earlier this year, the NAD released the call for our 56th Biennial NAD Conference inviting people to join us in Orlando, Florida this summer. We were excited to finally gather after not being able to in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, there have been some oppressive legislative changes that are affecting some of us deeply, in the state of Florida. We wanted to share our opposition to these laws.
Earlier in March, Florida passed a law banning Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools which means teachers are not allowed to discuss racism or our whitewashed history. The NAD opposes that law as we believe strongly that such important conversations and dialogue are important for the dismantling of racism everywhere but especially in schools. This law affects all students in Florida. Our work is not done, anti-racism work requires individual and group work. Our conference this summer will include important conversations about race and privilege through training and workshops. We commit to providing opportunities for BIPOC-only space as well as creating opportunities for dialogue.
Then, just this week, Florida passed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law which bars staff from being able to discuss LGBTQIA+ issues with K-3rd graders in school. This bill takes away important dialogue from these kids. The NAD does not support this bill because it is wrong and ignores real life for many people and their families.
What does this mean for kids with two moms or two dads? What does this mean for families who have young kids that identify as LGBTQIA+ or are still discovering their identities? How can students learn about their friends who have different identities? This terrible new law goes into effect on July 1st, which is the same day we have scheduled our traditional luncheon which is planned by the LGBT membership section. The LGBT Luncheon is held at every conference. We will also have gender-inclusive restrooms which the NAD started in 2017. We commit to creating LGBTQIA+ space at the conference.
The NAD Board and Team recognize the oppression of these Florida laws, and renounce them. We must protect the civil rights of everyone; any oppression of a single group leads to oppression of all of us. While we are working on details, we are committed to ensuring that the NAD Conference will include a protest against these laws in support of the communities that live in Florida and everywhere.
With BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ folks on the NAD Board and Team, we understand that those two critical situations are affecting some of you and us very deeply. We have emcees, presenters, guest speakers, and award recipients coming to the conference. We’re planning on about 80 workshops, around 75 exhibitors, and expect many attendees to join us in Orlando. The NAD believes in supporting the deaf community in Florida and are working closely with the Florida Association of the Deaf (FAD). We have been hosting regional meetings every month and have discussed both laws with State Association presidents.
We oppose any legislation that takes away basic human rights and we stand in solidarity with our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. We stand with you.