Safe and Welcoming CERF

CERF is committed to broadening participation in coastal and estuarine science and management. Rising TIDES (Toward an Inclusive, Diverse, and Enriched Society) is a comprehensive program to enhance the diversity and inclusion of CERF and CERF conferences. As a scientific society, CERF respects and values the many facets of diversity. These include differences among individuals in social identity such as race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity and expression, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, and socioeconomic background, as well as differences in discipline, career path, and life experience. From these differences arise a wide range of perspectives and approaches to problem-solving.  Rising TIDES initiatives emphasize creating environments in which all people feel welcomed and respected, individual identities are valued, and differences are embraced.

Some localities in the United States have approved legislation that is contrary to the values of CERF, particularly with respect to the LGBTQ+ community. It is our intent that CERF conferences be safe and welcoming to all attendees, including the LGBTQ+ community, regardless of location.  This Plan is a part of CERF’s overall efforts to broaden participation and ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all attendees at CERF events. The Plan was developed during the lead up to CERF 2019, and is intended to be implemented at all future CERF conferences.  

California Travel Ban

In mid-2016, the CERF Governing Board selected Mobile, Alabama, as the site of CERF 2019, and established contracts to secure the convention center for the conference. On January 1, 2017, a California law became effective prohibiting state-sponsored travel to states with laws that allow discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. In April 2017, Alabama passed House Bill 24 allowing private adoption agencies that do not receive federal funding to follow faith-based practices in child placement. Because HB 24 would permit such adoption agencies to discriminate against prospective LGBTQ+ parents, in June 2017 the state of Alabama was placed on the California travel ban list. CERF recognizes the impact this may have on LGBTQ+ attendees and allies, as well as on members and attendees based in California.

Action Plan

The Plan outlines actions that can be taken to promote safe and welcoming CERF conferences. The actions pertain to all conferences, but some specific recommendations apply to CERF 2019 in direct response to the California travel ban. 

  1. Promote a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ attendees at CERF Conferences
    1. Share information from local inclusive organizations with conference attendees. Examples of engagement could include setting up a booth or table at the conference, sharing local resources, and providing information about allyship. For CERF 2019, include a statement of support for inclusivity in the region (e.g., from local Chamber of Commerce, local civic leaders) with conference promotional materials.
    2. Expand the CERF Ambassadors program to encompass a Safe CERF program.
    3. Provide an optional mechanism for identifying preferred gender pronouns on name tags.
    4. Designate gender-neutral bathrooms in convention center and meeting hotels.
    5. Promote local LGBTQ+ ally businesses. This may include publicizing a list of businesses supporting the LGBTQ+ community and informing participants of signage that identifies these businesses.
    6. Broadly publicize the Event Code of Conduct and Implementation Plan.
  1. Raise awareness of inclusion issues among all members and attendees
    1. Provide regular information and updates on the CERF Conference website regarding inclusion plans. Ensure strong message to demonstrate that CERF stands with LGBTQ+ individuals and all members. For CERF 2019, provide background and context on California travel ban for attendees who may not be as familiar with this issue.
    2. Include activities throughout the conference that actively promote inclusion. For example, at CERF 2019:
      1. A Sunday workshop will focus on promoting a diverse and inclusive climate, including intentional emphasis on the LGBTQ+ community.
      2. The Inclusion Luncheon will emphasize awareness of inclusivity for all, including the LGBTQ+ community. The reduced fee for students and early career professionals will be maintained.
    3. Implement rainbow nametag ribbons (or similar) for allies. Ensure that participants opting for ribbons are informed about allyship. For example, this could include a registration check-box attesting to having read information and/or availability of an Allyship Awareness booth.
  1. Increase access to CERF 2019 for attendees subject to the California travel ban
    1. Live-stream plenary sessions and selected other sessions, recognizing that a registration fee might be required.
    2. Provide additional travel funds for students and early-career professionals who are subject to the ban but still seek to attend for specific professional needs. CERF respects and recognizes the reasons behind the California travel ban, yet also wants to provide support to students and early-career members who need and value this opportunity to present their work.