For the first time ever, the annual conference of the American Humanist Association (AHA) (June 7–9) will be a virtual conference, streamed live from five locations around the country—Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Houston, Texas; Claremont, California; Miami, Florida; and Brooklyn, New York. The entire conference can be viewed online for free, and each location can accommodate an audience. Registration is free, but space at each venue is limited.
This is a tremendous leap forward in accessibility. Conferences offer valuable opportunities for networking, education, inspiration, and camaraderie, but they’re often prohibitively expensive. Providing these opportunities only to those with enough free time and money is contrary to humanist ethics and inhibits diversity, which prompted us to embark on this exciting experiment of a virtual, rolling conference.
But our work to bring the benefits of AHA membership and conference attendance to people of all walks of life is not done! In her recent article titled “Leaving Silos, Centering Margins,” Diane Burkholder, chair of the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance Leadership Council, illuminated a concern: “Many progressive movements, including, at times, our humanist movement, demand that we work in silos, that we choose either the room where racial justice work happens, or the room where LGBTQ equality work happens, or the room where secularist work happens.” Making the annual AHA conference more affordable and accessible is important and valuable, but it doesn’t help us move out of these silos; that requires a conscious effort to be inclusive.
The FHA was established in 1977 as an affinity organization of the American Humanist Association. Creating a more equitable, diverse, and welcoming environment in the AHA for humanists of any identity or circumstance is one of our main priorities. Guided by the interconnected principles of humanist philosophy and intersectional feminism, while working in tandem with the AHA’s other social justice alliances, the FHA works to build healthy communities that confront discrimination and oppression through compassion, education, and social liberation.
That’s why the FHA is offering travel scholarships for the AHA’s 78th Annual Conference, specifically for people from traditionally marginalized communities. Scholarships of up to $500 are available to cover airfare, mileage, or lodging to attend one of the five conference locations. We hope to encourage the attendance of people of color, LGBTQ+ folks, and other marginalized peoples regardless of financial need.
We also recognize, however, that regardless of funding, not all people may be able to attend the conference—perhaps because of difficulty taking time off work, disability, or mental health considerations. So, the FHA is also providing grants to facilitate livestream “watch parties” so people can participate in the conference in their own spaces, with their own inclusive communities. These grants of up to $300 are available to individuals or AHA chapters and affiliates to cover venue, refreshments, advertising, and/or other necessary watch party expenses.
Scholarship and application grants are due by April 30, 2019, and will be awarded on a rolling basis until funds are exhausted. Apply today!