By George Kane
Everyone is looking forward to the Regional Conference that we are co-sponsoring with American Atheists in St. Paul on August 11. It prompted one of our members to write to our board on a very serious matter, however. She noted that it is becoming standard for atheist and skeptic organizations to adopt anti-harassment policies for their conventions.
The member provided a list of models for a conference anti-harassment policy. These models were designed specifically for conferences, and American Atheists was already drafting a policy for our joint event, which our board would review. It pointed up a need, though, for a Minnesota Atheist policy to state the board’s position regarding harassing conduct by members at any event we sponsor. To this end, the board adopted the following policy at our June meeting.
Minnesota Atheists is dedicated to ensuring a harassment-free membership experience at all of its events for everyone, regardless of gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, national extraction or ethnicity. We do not tolerate harassment in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any event we sponsor. The Board of Directors may impose sanctions in accordance with the Bylaws on members who violate these rules, including expulsion.
Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, national extraction or ethnicity; 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. Members asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.
We ask our members to familiarize themselves with this policy, and to comply with it.