A First Step to Ending Harassment at Conferences

At the beginning of this month, I was appointed to the Humanists of Florida Association’s board of directors. It’s pretty awesome (and, yeah, I’m the youngest board member). This occurred just in time for me to take a major role in organizing our annual conference coming up this fall. We’ve got a great speakers list and I’m really excited about it.

Recently, as some of you may know, there has been a lot of talk about sexual harassment at conferences [see 12, 3]. One of the ways suggested to make conferences safer and more comfortable for women is to introduce an anti-harassment policy at conferences. So, that’s what I’ve done for this upcoming HFA conference. This policy will be in every packet handed out to attendees and it will also be given to speakers. I cannot describe how happy I am to be in a position to effect some real change in our community and I hope that every participant at our conference feels safe and welcome.

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9 Comments

Filed under Atheism, Feminism

9 responses to “A First Step to Ending Harassment at Conferences

  1. Excellent news. Thank you!

  2. kausikdatta

    A most welcome move. Hope it works out as intended.

  3. Yes, this is awesome! I’m so glad to see this happening at yet another conference. Thank you!

  4. Ben Finney

    It’s a great step. Thank you for writing it.

    To pick on the wording, though: why are “offensive verbal comments” described that way? It would be best, I think, to avoid “offensive” and go with something that can be more generally agreed by the conference staff trying to judge the situation. Maybe “personally degrading comments”?

    In the examples of such comments, I see a bunch of personal traits (“gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age”) that are personal and good for inclusion in such a list. But the last one, “religion” is not. Why is disparaging someone’s religion out of bounds, any more than their political opinion or taste in movies?

    Surely part of the point of secularism is to remove the unwarranted protection religion has from the open discussion of ideas we expect for every other opinion.

  5. Pingback: Harassment policies campaign – timeline of major events | Lousy Canuck

  6. Brandy is a wonderful addition to our board. She was already working on this policy when I contacted her to work on a policy after hearing of this issue being raised!

    @Ben- I agree that some of the language needs to be fine-tuned. We are still tweaking this. This is new territory for us as it is for a lot of organizations therefore any constructive criticism will be welcome.

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