Discriminatory Texas Law Prompts Philosophers To Move Conference

The Public Philosophy Network (PPN) was planning on holding its annual conference next February at the University of North Texas (UNT). It will now, instead, be held in Boulder, Colorado. 

What prompted the change was the recent enactment, in Texas, of HB 3859, which “could be used to discriminate against LGBT and non-Christian families in adoptions.”

The law allows non-governmental organizations which receive state funding to refuse to place children with adoptive and foster parents on the basis of reasons related to religion (including whether the marriage is interfaith), sexuality, marital status (including whether one of the prospective parents has ever been divorced), and the like.

According to Human Rights Campaign, the law also forbids the Texas government “from canceling a state contract with an agency that subjected children in their care to dangerous practices such as so-called ‘conversion therapy.'”

The passage of the law meant that Texas would be added to the list of states to which California prohibits “state-funded and state-sponsored travel.”

This, in turn, led to the change of conference venue for the PPN. A press release from the organization says:

The next Public Philosophy Network conference will take place in Boulder, Colorado, February 8 to 10, 2018. Originally scheduled to take place in Denton, Texas, the organizers changed the venue due to the recent passage of a discriminatory Texas law that prompted California to issue a ban against state-funded travel to Texas.

The Texas law that spurred the venue change allows child care agencies to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. California’s travel ban applies to all units in the California University systems.

“The basis of publicly engaged philosophy is the absence of barriers to participation,” said Robert Frodeman, professor of philosophy at the University of North Texas (UNT) and a co-director of the conference. “Every person should feel welcomed regardless of their place of origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

“The political situation in Texas undermines these core values” added Adam Briggle, also of UNT and a conference co-director.  “We encourage academics and non-academics alike to submit their abstracts as we think together about the role of philosophy in contemporary society.”


The full press release is here. Further details about the conference are here.

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