David Silverman, Amanda Knief, and the rest of the crew at American Atheists have put together what I feel exceedingly comfortable in saying is absolutely the strongest anti-harassment policy implemented in this entire campaign. AA just closed a conference call (to which I was invited, though my day job impeded my participation). They have gone above and beyond my wildest expectations for delineating what actions are objectionable, and what might happen if you engage in those actions regardless. The policy hasn’t yet gone live but here’s what was apparently sent around to the conference bridge participants. In the event that this policy is significantly altered after I’ve posted this, I’ll amend.
I’ll highlight in italics (emphasis) some of the most relevant parts. Bold in the original.
Conference Code of Conduct
American Atheists is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion.
We expect participants to follow this code of conduct at all conference venues and conference-related social events.
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.
We have many different folks attending this conference: sexualities, genders, gender identities, races, ethnicities, abilities, beliefs—these are just a few. Blatant instances of racism, sexism, homophobia, or other stereotyping and harmful behaviors should be reported to conference staff immediately.
Please do not wear heavy fragrances—including perfumes, colognes, scented shampoos, etc. Some of those attending have allergic reactions to scented products. No one will object to the smell of your clean body!
Please respect the sessions and the speakers. Turn off cell phones and other electronic devices, take conversations and noisy children outside the session room, and move to the center of your row to make room for other attendees.
There are chairs and spaces at the front and back of the room that are marked “reserved.” The front row chairs are reserved for attendees with vision or hearing impairments. The back rows are reserved for attendees with mobility accommodation needs. Please leave these chairs and spaces free throughout the conference for those who may need them.
This conference welcomes families with children and expects all attendees to treat these families with courtesy and respect. Parents or guardians bringing children are responsible for the children’s behavior and are expected to remove disruptive children from the session. Parents or guardians should be aware not all language may be suitable for children.
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, 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.
If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of conference staff immediately. Conference staff can be identified by t-shirts/special badges/other ID.
Conference staff will be happy to help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the conference. We value your attendance.
[Email address for organizers]
[Phone number for conference security or organizers]
[Phone number for hotel/venue security]
[Local law enforcement]
[Local sexual assault hot line]
[Local emergency and non-emergency medical]
[Local taxi company]
It’s almost like they read my musings on how to take this stuff seriously. Or, say, basically anything Stephanie Zvan has contributed to the conversation. Thank you for paying attention, American Atheists!
I’m also pleased to note that the JREF has included the following in their TAM FAQ:
How does JREF handle safety concerns?
The Amazing Meeting, while a private event, is held at the South Point Hotel Casino and Spa, which is open to the public. The safety of our attendees and speakers is a priority. If an attendee encounters a problem within the conference area, they should report the situation to TAM staff or hotel security. JREF has also engaged an independent consultant on these issues, with decades of experience handling security, boundary and safety concerns, to assist us in dealing with any matters should they arise at the event.
I’m optimistic that this new language (unsure when it was added) signals that they’re planning on publishing a code of conduct soon too.
Amanda Knief informs us that the official press release is right here. They’ve also published the policy in docx format. Let me know if you need it converted to something more portable, I’ve got the skillz to make it happen.
From the press release:
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 will go into effect immediately and be used first at American Atheists’ regional conference in Minnesota, August 10-11.
Well done, folks. Well done indeed.