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SPSSI’s Program at APA 2010
Adam Fingerhut, APA 2010 Program Chair

I am writing to let you know about the exciting program that SPSSI has planned for this summer’s APA convention in San Diego, CA. Before detailing some of this programming (all of which is outlined in the newsletter insert), let me provide a brief background to this year’s convention as a way to explain the content of the program.

Background.  In February 2009, The APA Board of Directors decided to fulfill its contract with the Manchester Hyatt, one of the two hotels being used for the convention.  This decision was made despite the fact that Douglas Manchester, the owner of this particular Hyatt, donated heavily to California’s ‘Yes on Proposition 8’ campaign which ultimately stripped same-sex couples of their right to marry in California.  Rather than walking away from the table and creating a boycott of the convention, the SPSSI leadership decided to create a teachable moment. In a letter written to the APA Board of Directors and APA President Carol Goodheart, the SPSSI Executive Committee committed to the following (among other items):

1.    That it will not hold the Division 9 Business Meetings or any social events at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.
2.    That its Executive Committee will stay at an alternative hotel during the 2010 APA Convention in San Diego, CA.
3.    That it will support APA's plans to highlight scientific research and public debate about same-sex marriage at the Convention. 
4.    That it will focus all of its own invited Convention programming on LGBTQ issues.

In response, APA has been very accommodating, not only with our division but with others as well. Additionally, APA has helped organize a block of programming on Friday and Saturday dedicated to marriage equality and LGBT rights. SPSSI’s programming will be featured prominently in this block insuring that SPSSI will play an integral role in this summer’s convention.

Though the situation at the Manchester Hyatt is frustrating and highlights the continued struggle for social justice, it has also provided us, as scientists and practitioners, with an opportunity to engage in an important dialogue.  The program that SPSSI has crafted will engage and inspire, and allow us to stand by those who are marginalized and advocate for equal rights for all.

The Program. In creating the invited programming, I was guided by a couple ideas.  First, I wanted to emphasize SPSSI’s mission and to think about the ways in which scholarship regarding important social issues can speak to law and policy and the ways in which law and policy can inform scholarship.  Second, I wanted SPSSI to lead conversations that are central to the gay-rights debate, but which are often difficult to have and therefore ignored.

With these thoughts in mind, and in consultation with SPSSI, I created the following programs for our invited programming. On Friday 8/13 from 4-5pm we will host a conversation hour entitled “Intersection of Law, Policy, and Scholarship in the Gay Rights Debate.”  The session will center on a conversation among three panelists, representing law, policy, or scholarship.  Scott Malzahn, attorney with Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher, the law firm litigating the federal Proposition 8 case, will represent law.  Brad Sears, Executive Director of the Williams Institute, one of the most prominent organizations dedicated to law and policy related to LGBT issues, will represent policy.  Finally, Greg Herek, noted social psychologist, expert on sexual prejudice, contributor to several APA-sponsored amicus briefs related to LGBT rights, and SPSSI Lewin Award winner, will represent scholarship.  Following this session, on Friday 8/13 from 5-6pm, will be another conversation hour entitled “In Their Own Voices: LGBT Activists on Marriage and Gay Rights.”  In this session, we will hear from local gay-rights activists who will report on the state of the movement. 

On Saturday 8/14, we will host a two-part program from 11am-2pm.  The first part will consist of a special screening of the award-winning documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So.” The documentary profiles five devoutly Christian families as they struggle with the realization of having a gay child.  The film will be followed with a conversation led by a panel including:  Daniel Karslake, the film’s writer/producer/director; David Frost, a social psychologist who studies stigma and sexual prejudice; and Joseph LaBrie, a clinical psychology professor and Jesuit priest.

In addition to the programs listed in the enclosure, let me guide you to a couple other programs we are co-sponsoring with other divisions. With Division 31, we are co-sponsoring a session entitled “Opposing Discriminatory Legislation and Initiatives Aimed at LGB Persons.”  This session will be Friday 8/13 from 8-9 am. Finally, SPSSI is co-sponsoring a session with the Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs entitled “Research, Education, and Prevention on Health Disparities.” This session will take place Friday 8/13 from 10 am-12pm.

Thank you to everyone who helped create this exciting set of programs.  See you in San Diego!

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