Health, Inclusivity, and Safety

Disease Prevention and Protection

The 2025 SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo will adhere to local and national health rules and guidance, as issued by governing bodies such as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC). If those rules and guidance require specific policies and procedures associated with in-person meeting attendance, this web page and other Annual Meeting materials will be updated to inform registrants and potential registrants.

Inclusivity & Accessibility

No country, territory, province, state, or city is without its detractors—and Florida is no exception.

Approximately 74 million people visit Florida’s Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties each year—Orlando cannot thrive without making these individuals feel welcome and safe.

SOT leadership has heard the concerns. They have talked with fellow SOT leaders. They have talked with counterparts in Orlando. They have held a town hall with Visit Orlando that SOT members can view on ToXchange. And SOT remains committed to making its members feel safe, included, and valued.

Two individuals stand in an open space. They are shaking hands and smiling.

About Existing Legislation

General Safety

While HB 543 (“Public Safety Bill”) allows concealed weapons without a permit—open carry is illegal—no weapons are allowed in hotels or the convention center. In addition, there is an Orange County Sheriff’s Office Substation on the convention center property, so help is close by if needed.


“Orange County is open for business. Our residents represent a broad diaspora of cultures, which makes us stronger as a society. Please be assured our community values diversity and embraces inclusion. Hate is never welcome here.” —Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings

More than 52% of the Orange County population identifies as non-white.


Orlando has the third largest LGBTQ+ population in the United States—only San Francisco and New York have larger populations.

During the Annual Meeting and ToxExpo, the convention center space is considered private for meetings leasing the space, meaning laws such as HB 1521 (i.e., the “Transgender Bathroom Ban” bill) are not applicable since the law only pertains to state-owned facilities. Since the law went into effect in July 2023, there have been no police calls/reports countywide regarding this bill.


If you are performing research in an area that appears to have legislative restrictions, Florida regulations pertain specifically to individuals seeking Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits or similar accreditation. Individuals in Florida cannot earn CME credits for courses featuring certain research, such as research using stem cells. Presenters are not under any restrictions and can share their research without issue.

Also, SOT employs a security service that assesses potential threats in the form of protests or other activities before and during the meeting to ensure that meeting participants can safely present their research.

Women’s Health

Local women’s and children’s hospitals have confirmed that they will provide prenatal care to Orlando residents and visitors. HB 5 (regarding abortion regulations) provides provisions allowing procedures (including abortion) that will save the woman’s life or avert a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function or in situations where the fetus has not achieved viability and has a fatal fetal abnormality.

On-Site Services and Resources

Available resources will be described on the “On-Site Services” web page when it launches by September 2024. If you need any services not listed, please indicate your needs while registering for the meeting and contact Maureen Bayley at SOT Headquarters by email or phone (703.438.3115).

Personal Safety and On-Site Security

In addition to convention center personnel and the on-site Orange County Sheriff’s Office Substation, SOT employs security staff to assist before and during the meeting. The personal safety tips outlined on this page are provided by these security experts.

Personal Safety

The best way to stay safe is to be aware of your surroundings and to avoid situations in which you feel uncomfortable. Travel “smart” when you leave the Orange County Convention Center:

  • Take off your badge when you leave the convention center.
  • Avoid being distracted by your mobile phone, but make sure your phone is charged and never let strangers borrow it.
  • Establish a “buddy” system with another meeting attendee and don’t go anywhere alone. Also, share schedules and check on each other periodically.
  • Know your destination and the best way to reach it. Avoid shortcuts that take you into unoccupied and unlit areas.
  • Carry bags, purses, and valuables in front of your body. Jackets with pockets provide a convenient alternative to reduce the chance for lost or stolen handbags.
  • Be sure your laptop is in a secure place. Laptops are attractive and easy targets for thieves.
  • If you see something, say something! Report suspicious activity to authorities.
Two individuals stand next to each other with one arm around the other person’s back. They are smiling at the camera.

In Case of Protests

While SOT employs a security service that assesses potential threats in the form of protests or other activities before and during the meeting, there is always the possibility of demonstrators given the nature of toxicology research. Events of this nature range from verbal confrontations, protests, and strikes to riots.

Here are some safety tips in the event of demonstrations:

  • Identify yourself as an official meeting attendee by always wearing your name badge while in convention center or while attending official SOT events. Remove it when leaving an SOT meeting facility or activity.
  • If you see a demonstration or protest beginning, please contact any member of the SOT Annual Meeting and ToxExpo staff, and they will start the SOT response process. If you see actions that appear threatening, notify the nearest security officer.
  • Do not engage, defend either side, or subdue anyone in any type of disturbance. Demonstrators are usually trying to attract media attention. Don’t help them!
  • SOT representatives will respond to media inquiries. Do not participate in interviews or other media responses.
  • In the unlikely event that outsiders disrupt a Scientific Session or other event, SOT security officials have well-developed contingency plans in place. Please follow directions provided by the Session Chair or Co-Chair and avoid becoming involved in the situation.