Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Taskforce 2009

by Leisa Meyer

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Taskforce of the AHA was created by AHA Council at the January 2009 Annual Meeting.  The task force is composed of five members (with Vice President David J. Weber and Leisa Meyer of the Professional Division serving as co-chairs), one additional AHA member appointed by the Professional Division (PD), and two appointed by the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender History (CLGBTH), an affiliate society of the AHA.  The task force has a three-year charge and meets once a year always during the AHA Annual Meeting with several conference calls during the year for discussion of ongoing business.

As a newly constituted task force of the AHA, our charge is to gather information about the concerns of LGBTQ historians and propose concrete, practical solutions for as many of them as possible.  We have already begun conducting a benchmark survey of other professional organizations with an eye to best practices and policies.  Ideally, this will result in an “LGBTQ equity in the workplace/best practices” guide.  Another possible focus of attention will be a survey of LGBTQ historians and those doing LGBTQ history to determine hiring and discrimination trends in the field.  This would result in a “status of LGBTQ people in the historical profession” report.  But the task force will also attend more broadly to the special problems faced by LGBTQ historians (including those teaching LGBTQ topics) on the job market, in the classroom, in the research field, and in all stages of their careers. In addition, the task force will address the ways in which the AHA can best serve the needs of LGBTQ historians. The task force held two conference calls on July 10 and November 4, 2009, to begin this work, and held its annual meeting at the AHA Annual Meeting in January 2010 in San Diego.

Much of the work we did in 2009 was in relation to the ongoing LGBTQ and labor boycott of the conference hotel for the 2010 Annual Meeting. Although our target audience is the AHA leadership and membership and our charge does not include taking a public stand on issues such as the San Diego annual meeting situation and the boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, the LGBTQ Taskforce was quite involved in the issues concerning this boycott, working with AHA staff and Council and the AHA Working Group on Same-Sex Marriage.  We were contacted by a number of groups and individuals concerning the situation in San Diego and noted the concerns of individual members for how the boycott situation developed to AHA staff and Council. The task force also put together two panel sessions for the threaded mini-conference organized by the AHA Working Group on Same-Sex Marriage.  We also facilitated a conference call on October 26, 2009, with AHA staff and communications consultants concerning the boycott situation in San Diego at the Manchester Grand Hyatt and subsequently vetted and revised the AHA letter to all mini-conference participants explaining the AHA’s position in relation to the boycott. We also put together a statement for the AHA blog (“AHA Today”), the e-mail newsletter (“Fortnightly News”), and Perspectives on History clarifying the position and role of the task force in relation to the AHA and the ongoing boycott.