CNCF and the Linux Foundation are saddened by the Utah state legislature’s passing of HB 257, an anti-equal rights law commonly referred to as the “Utah bathroom bill.” Notwithstanding the new Utah law, CNCF is committed to ensuring that KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America 2024 (KubeCon NA) is a welcoming and inclusive space for all attendees. Please see our earlier Statement on Anti-Equal Rights and Event Locations from January.

As we have done at prior conferences for years, we will continue to provide all-gender restrooms at KubeCon NA. Within the event and community spaces, our event staff and security teams, in collaboration with the CNCF Code of Conduct Committee, will continue to enforce the CNCF Code of Conduct and Linux Foundation Events Code of Conduct, both of which prohibit harassment based on gender identity and gender expression.

Please know that most Utahns support LGBTQ+ protections. Both the Mayor of Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake City Council have publicly opposed the Utah bathroom bill, and Salt Lake City itself has a vibrant LGBTQ+ population ranking 13th largest in the U.S. Nonetheless, we understand and empathize with community members’ concerns. To support the safety of our community members, in accordance with our standard security practices at all KubeCon conferences, we will provide a security escort to any attendee upon request.

The Linux Foundation and CNCF are engaged in discussions with local organizations, including Equality Utah, Utah Pride Center, and Project Rainbow Utah, to get their recommendations and resources on how we can best ensure a positive and safe experience in Salt Lake City for KubeCon NA attendees from the LGBTQ+ community (e.g., obtaining lists of LGBTQ+-friendly restaurants and shops). Project Rainbow has informed us that Transgender Awareness Week will take place in Salt Lake City November 13-20, overlapping with KubeCon NA, offering attendees an opportunity to support local awareness efforts should they choose. We will update the Diversity & Inclusion page of the KubeCon NA website when we have more details to share.

Even with these efforts to provide a safe and inclusive space, we understand why some people might not feel comfortable visiting Utah. Thus, if any attendee changes their mind about attending due to HB 257, we will fully refund their ticket. Additionally, if any CNCF committee, SIG, TAG, or other group no longer feels comfortable meeting in Salt Lake City but still wants to meet in person this year, CNCF will provide an alternative venue for meeting face-to-face, such as at another CNCF/LF event.

All attendees will have lawful access to restrooms while traveling for KubeCon NA

We have researched and confirmed that KubeCon NA attendees will be able to lawfully use restrooms at the convention center, the Salt Lake City airport, all Salt Lake City hotels, restaurants, shops, and other privately owned establishments throughout the city. This is because the Utah law applies only to K-12 public school restrooms and to changing rooms in government-owned buildings. The Utah law does not apply to privately owned establishments.

Furthermore, all-gender bathrooms will be available (in addition to men’s and women’s bathrooms) at the airport, convention center, and the lobby of the Hyatt Regency hotel connected to the convention center.

It’s a common misunderstanding that HB 257 applies more broadly. As explained by the ACLU of Utah’s FAQ on HB 257, “…the scope of the new law is, in fact, more limited than the news coverage of this bill would suggest.”

It is not feasible to change venues at this point in time

Had the Utah bathroom bill already been enacted when we were evaluating potential locations for KubeCon NA, we would not have chosen Utah as the location for our conference. However, we committed to Salt Lake City as the venue for this year’s conference in 2022 and entered into contracts with the convention center, hotels, and vendors–which are legally binding and cannot be canceled–before HB 257 was introduced.

Venues for conference spaces that are large enough to host a KubeCon North America conference (which typically have 10,000+ attendees) fill up several years in advance. Thus, in order to secure space, CNCF must book a venue 2-4 years in advance.

For these reasons, it is not feasible at this time to find an alternative venue for KubeCon NA.

Canceling KubeCon NA is not a viable option, due to the detrimental impact cancellation would have on our projects and our community. Hosting conferences that bring people together to connect, share best practices and knowledge, and advance cloud native technology is critical to supporting our mission to make cloud native computing ubiquitous. Just as importantly, revenue from KubeCon events funds infrastructure, tooling, security audits, mentorships, scholarships, and support for CNCF projects and our community. The financial impact of canceling KubeCon NA would force us to reduce support for projects and the community by several million dollars. By canceling, we would also be letting down our many community members who have already invested countless hours in planning, preparing talks and demos, organizing co-located events and programs, and more for KubeCon NA.

CNCF is committed to geographical diversity to serve all our community members no matter where they reside. As such, this year, in addition to KubeCon North America and KubeCon Europe, we are hosting KubeCon China and KubeCon India. Our hope is that by bringing KubeCon to a broader set of geographies, we can make attendance at a KubeCon accessible to more of our global community. If you’re not comfortable joining KubeCon NA this year, please consider attending one of our other KubeCon conferences or other CNCF events, which include CloudNativeSecurityCon and three KubeDays.