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American Atheists creates a harassment policy for conventions and conferences

American Atheists creates a harassment policy for conventions and conferences

In light of recent events concerning complaints about sexual harassment, American Atheists announced that it created a policy, in docx format, for their conventions and conferences.  The Code of Conduct includes not only a policy for sexual harassment, but also discrimination and those with sensitivities to perfumes/colognes, which they expect all participants to follow.

Dave Silverman said, "The Code of Conduct will allow all conference attendees to know that American Atheists' events are safe, fun and informative. We want people to enjoy themselves but know there will be consequences for harmful behaviors."

Silverman continued, "We are training our staff and volunteers to be able to take information from our attendees who have been harassed. These reports will be given directly to one designated senior staff member at each event to be assessed and to determine what action should and needs to be taken."

"The Code of Conduct is a living document. We will adapt it as we learn from what works and what needs improvement. But the overall goal is to create fun, enjoyable, and safe conventions and conferences for everyone," Silverman added.

The Code of Conduct addresses behaviours of attendees concerning when a speaker gives their talk, families, those with disabilities, and various forms of harassment.  American Atheists will also provide directions for staff and volunteers on how to take complaints of various types of harassment.

The Code of Conduct specifically states, "No means no, yes means yes, and maybe means no".

Yes means yes; no means no; and maybe means no. Please take no for an answer for any request or activity. You are encouraged to ask for unequivocal consent for all activities during the conference. No touching other people without asking. This includes hands on knees, backs, shoulders–and hugs (ask first!). There are folks who do not like to be touched and will respect and like you more if you respect their personal space.

Blatant instances of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of harassments a attendee should report immediately to conference staff.

They ask that people do not wear heavy fragrances in consideration of those who may have allergic reactions to them.

American Atheists requests attendees to respect speakers, turn off all cell phones during the speaking sessions, and gives responsibility to children's behaviours to the parents.

American Atheists does not tolerate harassment of or by conference participants, speakers, exhibitors, volunteers, or staff in any form. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Anyone violating this policy may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference (without a refund) at the discretion of the conference organizers.

The Code of Conduct also states how American Atheists will identify staff members and any potential violations of this code participants are to report to the identified staff.  Any potential violation American Atheists will happily assist attendees in reporting to appropriate authorities if needed.

About Mriana

Mriana is a humanist and the author of "A Source of Misery", who grew up in the Church of God, Anderson Indiana. After she became an adult, she joined the Episcopal Church, but later left the Church and became a humanist. She has two grown sons and raises cats. Mriana raised her sons in the Episcopal Church, but in their teen years, they left the Church and she soon followed. One of her sons became a "Tao Buddhist" and the other a None, creating his own world view. She enjoys writing, reading, science, philosophy, psychology, and other subjects. Mriana is also an animal lover, who cares for their welfare as living beings, who are part of the earth. She is a huge Star Trek fan in a little body.
  • Sounds like the policy went a little over-board on the rules and doesn't address the issue during the Reason Rally with the language that was being used during a family event. I have concerns about that, since the F word was flying around by many of the speakers. I don't care if it's an adult event, it wouldn't be an issue with me, but since there was small children there and also children walking by visiting the DC area, it just wasn't cool at all.

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