As many already know, DrupalCon North America 2018 will be held in Nashville, TN. The Drupal Association puts a lot of time and effort into choosing a site for DrupalCon North America - a two to three year process that involves request for proposals, several rounds of interviews, site visits and contract negotiations. We do not take this lightly and we include both logistically important and socially relevant questions for review.

Unfortunately, sometimes things happen outside of our control, despite our great lengths of planning. In April 2016, after a 5-month RFP and interview process, we signed a contract with the City of Nashville to host DrupalCon North America 2018. A few weeks later, the State of Tennessee introduced and passed a new law that Drupal Association does not support, and as many community members have pointed out - prevents public employees from the State of California from attending DrupalCon if sponsored by their employer.

For those who have asked, the timeline of events transpired as follows:

  • April 2016: Drupal Association contracted with Nashville, TN to host DrupalCon North America 2018
  • Early May 2016: Tennessee enacted the Amendment Senate Bill No. 1556 House Bill No. 1840
  • January 2017: California enacted restrictions banning state sponsored travel to TN in response to SB1556/HB1840.

Specifically, May 2, 2016. SB1556/HB1840 as enacted, declares that no person providing counseling or therapy services will be required to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with the sincerely held principles of the counselor or therapist; requires such counselor or therapist to refer the client to another counselor or therapist; creates immunity for such action; maintains liability for counselors who will not counsel a client based on the counselor's religious beliefs when the individual seeking or undergoing the counseling is in imminent danger of harming themselves or others.

It is unfortunate that this bill became law. The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation, who we worked with to contract DrupalCon Nashville, and the greater Nashville business community including the Nashville Mayor’s office believe discrimination has no place in their home state.

In response to this bill and in anticipation of other potential discrimination bills in the future, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation became a founding and leading member of Tennessee Thrives, a business coalition of now more than 400 companies across Tennessee who believe that in order for Tennessee businesses and communities to thrive they must be diverse and welcoming for all people, regardless of race, sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. You can read more here about Tennessee Thrives and the Nashville Metro area’s history of social advancements, as well as a statement from the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation.

Here is the Tennessee Thrives pledge:

We believe that equal treatment of all Tennesseans and visitors is essential to maintaining Tennessee’s strong brand as a growing and exciting home for business innovation, economic development, a best-in-class workforce, and dynamic entertainment, travel and tourism industries.

In order for Tennessee businesses to compete for top talent, we believe our workplaces and communities must be diverse and welcoming for all people, regardless of race, sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

As signers of the Tennessee Thrives pledge, we are committed to promoting an attractive, prosperous, and economically vibrant Tennessee. A united Tennessee is a thriving Tennessee.

Tennessee Thrives identified 12 discriminatory bills that were filed in the General Assembly in 2017, and with their efforts only two were approved.

As a further measure of welcome for our Drupal community, the Mayor of Nashville, has extended a Statement of Welcome to the DrupalCon community. They are very excited that DrupalCon has chosen Nashville as their 2018 North American location, and hope we can see past the politics of the larger state to see the welcoming intent of the City of Nashville.

In response to the Drupal community concerns with Nashville as a DrupalCon city, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation offered this statement:

Nashville is an open, welcoming city that respects and embraces the differences among us. We believe that our differences make our community stronger. A sampling of Nashville’s social advancements in contradiction to the actions of TN legislature include:

  • In 2016, the Metro Nashville Council unanimously voted to approve a resolution asking the state legislature to oppose bills opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality. The resolution’s lead co-sponsor was Councilwoman Nancy Van Reese, who is openly gay.
  • On March 21, 2016, Mayor Megan Barry issued an executive order requiring training of all employees of the Metropolitan Government in diversity issues and sexual harassment awareness and prevention.
  • In May, 2016, Nashville hosted the International Gay Rugby Bingham Cup. Mayor Megan Barry served on the Host Committee to bring the Bingham Cup to Nashville.
  • While a mayoral candidate, Mayor Megan Barry officiated the first same-sex marriage in Nashville just hours after the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is allowed in all 50 states. (During her inauguration in September, 2015, Mayor Barry invited Nashville in Harmony to perform. The group is Tennessee’s first and only musical arts organization specifically created for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people – and their straight allies. The group performed at events hosted by the previous Nashville Mayor, as well.)
  • While a mayoral candidate, Mayor Megan Barry received the Ally Award from the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce in 2015.
  • In 2011, Nashville extended nondiscrimination protections to employees of the city and contractors.  (Unfortunately, state government nullified the local decision.)
  • In 2009, the Metro Nashville Council passed an ordinance that protects Metro employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. (Sponsored by then Council Member-At-Large Megan Barry, who now serves as Mayor of Nashville)
  • In 2008, the Metro Nashville School Board approved sexual orientation and gender identity protections for students and staff.

For those concerned about a Tennessee Bathroom Bill, please know that Tennessee has never passed the bathroom bill, it gets killed in process every time it comes up for a vote, including this past March. There is no “Bathroom Bill” in the state of Tennessee. There are also all-gender restrooms offered at the Nashville Music City Center for use during DrupalCon. We understand people's concern with a state that submits this kind of law for consideration. We can possibly all relate to the idea that the actions of lawmakers are not always representative of the greater population, particularly in the greater population of a metro area, and Nashville shares this same concern.

At our core, the Drupal Association believes in community, collaboration, and openness. We work hard throughout the process of DrupalCon planning to be sure that not only the complicated logistics are addressed, but also an accessible space for everyone in our community to feel safe, welcome and comfortable.

In addition to our core DrupalCon programming, we also include the following services at DrupalCon for those who need it.

  • Our Code of Conduct
  • Registration grants and scholarships
  • Interpreters (for the hard of hearing)
  • Special meals: Kosher, Halal, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc
  • New mother’s room
  • Quiet room and prayer space
  • Venue accessibility and mobility assistance
  • Local AA Meeting information
  • Speaker inclusion fund
  • No-photograph lanyards and communication preference stickers
  • All-gender restrooms
  • Women in Drupal events
  • Inclusion BOFs
  • On-site contacts for incident reporting

You can learn more about all of these services on our DrupalCon Nashville website under On-site Resources.

We believe, despite the current legislative challenges that the City of Nashville is working to overcome at a state level, that we will have a safe, diverse, celebratory space for our community in Nashville this spring. We’re excited to bring DrupalCon to the city of Nashville, and we’re confident it will be an amazing event.

We want to hear about your experiences at DrupalCon and in the cities we visit. Please participate in our post-Con surveys so that we can follow with both our internal teams and host cities if there are areas where the events can be improved for attendees.