|Janice Adelman || |
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|Luis Rivera || || |
American Psychological Association Council of Representatives Winter 2021 Meeting
Janice Adelman and Luis M. Rivera, Division 9 SPSSI Representatives
Report Submitted to SPSSI Council
The American Psychological Association (APA) Council of Representatives (CoR) met virtually on February 26 and 27, 2021. CoR is the legislative body of APA and has full power and authority over the affairs and funds of APA within the limitations set by the certificate of incorporation and the Bylaws, including the power to review, upon its own initiative, the actions of any board, committee, division or affiliated organization. CoR is composed of representatives of divisions, representatives of state, provincial and territorial psychological associations and the members of the Board of Directors. CoR engaged in actions and reported on issues relevant to SPSSI and its membership at the February 2021 meeting.
Resolutions on Gender Identity and on Sexual Orientation Change Efforts. APA CoR adopted two resolutions, one opposing efforts to change people’s gender identity (https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2021/03/change-gender-identity) and another aimed at opposing changing people’s sexual orientation (https://www.apa.org/about/policy/resolution-sexual-orientation-change-efforts.pdf). The overwhelming support for both resolutions was rooted on scientific research showing that such actions may be harmful to individuals’ mental health and well-being, and that all gender identities and sexual orientations are normal variations in human expression of gender and sexuality. The resolution affirmed APA’s unequivocal opposition to using nonscientific explanations to frame same-gender and multiple-gender sexual orientations as unhealthy. Both resolutions highlight the harms over the life course of individuals, particularly among young people.
Resolution on Racism. APA CoR adopted a resolution that denunciates racism in all forms, and pledges to undertake an analysis of psychology’s history with the goal of understanding the harms that diverse racial groups have experienced and the actions necessary to create a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive association, discipline, and society going forward (https://www.apa.org/about/policy/resolution-combat-racism.pdf).?
New Chief Diversity Officer. As part of its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Framework (https://www.apa.org/about/apa/equity-diversity-inclusion), APA hired Maysa Akbar, PhD, as its new Chief Diversity Officer. Dr. Akbar spoke briefly about the need to incorporate APA’s EDI framework into all aspects of APA, including divisions and state associations.
Presidential Initiative on Health Equity. APA President Jennifer Kelly, PhD, assembled a Health Equity Panel to address psychology’s role in achieving health equity for all marginalized groups in the United States. In her own words, “Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) experience layers of trauma due not only to historical mistreatment within the health care system, but as a result of well-documented social determinants of health. At the root of many of these issues is systemic racism, which affects how the health care system responds to individuals and provides access to resources necessary for optimum health. As we study health inequities in our country, we must be mindful of the overall impact of systemic racism on our nation and on diverse communities. Given the urgency, I am launching a Presidential Task Force on Psychology and Health Equity to take on this critical issue, which will produce a comprehensive report articulating a vision for the role of psychology in advancing health equity. The task force will gather input from health care experts and the available scientific literature in order to make recommendations for psychological science, education and training, practice, public policy and legislative advocacy." For more information, go to https://www.apa.org/about/governance/president/health-equity.
Council Leadership Team (CLT)’s Council Effectiveness Work Group (CEWG) Report and Subsequent Action. One of the most noteworthy and lasting effects of the 2014 Good Governance Project is a trial delegation of authority around internal decision-making matters from CoR to the APA Board of Directors and other executive actors. At the February 2020 CoR meeting, table discussions revealed that some CoR members felt that Council’s role in directing and informing policy remained murky despite such attempts to enable more CoR meeting time to such matters. As a result, CLT created the CEWG to draft a report for the August 2020 CoR meeting; the CEWG Report was received at that August meeting leading to a 45-day comment period and CLT review. The CEWG Report included 24 recommendations, some of which have been implemented already; others not. From the input and feedback from CoR at the February 2021 meeting, five work groups were created to tackle each of the 24 recommendations with all CoR members invited to participate as they were able with monthly virtual caucus meetings to take place. The work groups covered the following domains: (1) Education and Access, (2) Governance Organization and Relations, (3) Communication and Deliberation, (4) Diversity Outreach and Inclusion, and (5) New Vehicles for Policy Making.
Since the conclusion of the February CoR meeting, each of the five CEWG work groups actively churned out ideas and plans to implement the 24 recommendations over the spring and summer months. These efforts culminated in the August 21 Working Draft of the Council Effectiveness Work Group Implementation Report. In addition, Work Group #2 (Governance Organization & Relations) developed a survey to evaluate the effectiveness of the CLT and presented its results to the CoR listserv on August 22. In response to these reports, several CoR members again pointed to the lack of diversity within Council and the need to continue to allow for these voices to be heard even at the cost of slowing down the swiftness at adopting and implementing important policy changes. At issue is the abbreviated time-span to solicit feedback from underrepresented voices given the extensive detail in the implementation report. Furthermore, the timeline between the review of the report and the presentation of it at the October CoR meeting is problematic given that based on the feedback received during the short window, some motions would be added to the Consent Agenda without further debate or discussion. The net result of this process is a further stifling of diverse voices. As of September 17, however, the deadline to provide feedback was extended by another four weeks, until October 15. This continues to be an evolving issue and will certainly be a hot topic at the October CoR meeting.
Speaking of the October CoR meeting, it is worth pointing out that typically, CoR holds its second meeting each year during APA’s Annual Convention. Following a June CoR Town Hall meeting discussing options for the summer CoR meeting, the powers that be approved a tentative hybrid-meeting format and delayed the second meeting until October 29-30, 2021. Discussions revolved around ensuring that a quorum would be present in-person in case of any computer technical glitches, as well as maintaining the safety of—not to mention, accessibility to—all CoR members. Although the hybrid format could change up until the last minute, the current status is to have both in-person and virtual attendees at the October meeting.
Finally, APA’s Chief of Psychology in the Public Interest, former SPSSI Council Member Dr. Brian Smedley, is leaving APA to become an Equity Scholar with the Urban Institute at the end of October.
Please contact either Luis or Janice with any questions or concerns regarding APA business, including requests for documents described herein, and how we can best serve SPSSI’s interests.
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