July 25, 2017
Gov. Greg Abbott
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Dear Governor Abbott:
The Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA) is a professional organization representing over 500 members in the six states of the American Southwest (TX, LA, AR, OK, NM, AZ) who work in or are interested in preserving our documentary heritage, or the essential evidence of our lives, commonly called archives.
Archival records serve to strengthen collective memory and protect people’s rights, property, and identity. For example, historians and genealogists rely on archival sources to analyze past events and reconstruct family histories; businesses use the records to improve their public relations and promote new products; medical researchers utilize records to study patterns of diseases; Native Americans may use archival records to establish legal claims to land and privileges guaranteed by federal and state governments; and authors use archives to acquire a feel for the people and times about which they are writing. In short, archives benefit nearly everyone—even those who have not used them directly.
Approximately half of SSA’s 500 members are from Texas. SSA embraces the individualistic spirit of its members, and celebrates our national journey toward diversity and inclusion. SSA is committed to inclusive practices and opposes discrimination of any type.
The Texas Legislature is currently considering a bill that would compel some people to use public restrooms that do not correspond to their gender identity. If the bill currently being discussed passes through the Texas legislature, it will prevent municipalities from passing antidiscrimination ordinances designed to protect transgender people. SSA considers this bill highly discriminatory, and we are strongly opposed to it.
SSA holds an annual meeting each year for approximately 200-300 attendees, held every other year in Texas. The 2018 meeting is scheduled for May 22-26 in San Antonio. While it may be too late to reschedule next year’s conference, passage of this bill will require SSA to consider forgoing holding any future annual meetings in Texas.
Passage of this bill will hurt SSA members who are Texas residents, as well as all SSA members in the American Southwest who travel to Texas every other year, and will signal to all that Texas is not a welcoming place for its residents or visitors.
We strongly urge the Texas Legislature to not pass this bill, and refrain from such discriminatory acts in the future, else they risk making Texas an unwelcome place for its residents, all visitors, as well as harming the Texas economy for all Texans. Sincerely, Jennifer Day President Society of Southwest Archivists
Society of Southwest Archivists