BiCon: Conference Policies update

Notes from an Edinburgh Bi Group workshop

We started off by asking if set policies (things which should be done) and guidelines (things which should be done, if possible) were a good idea for the National Bisexual Conference and, if yes, what would they be.

We were in no doubt that they were a good idea, as they would save time “re-inventing the wheel”. They would be a starting point for discussion. They allowed valuable experience to be passed on.

These are our thoughts:

Policies

  • BiCon to be organised according to Equal Opportunities philosophy and practice (eg venues to be physically accessible).
  • Anti-harassment to be given greater consideration – Organisers to be clear about the issues and how to respond with regards to conference goers and other people on venue sites.
  • BiCon to give greater consideration to people new to Bicon and/or Bisexuality. To be a positively welcoming experience !
  • Organisers to have clear responsibility to pass on information pertaining to venues (smoking rules, drinking, fire regulations etc. Not thinking of any event in particular).
  • Any restrictions on people need to be justifid within the context of equality eg women-only spaces etc.

Guidelines

  • Feedback (both positive and negative) on BiCon to take place (publicly) during the conference to provide accountability and to allow improvement to be made during the conference.
  • To accept people’s self-definition.
  • To provide Bi only spaces.
  • To ensure that BiCon is structured to end on a positive (eg not having negative feedback sessions at the close).
  • Greater consideration to be given at the beginning and end of BiCon as these particularly effect people’s impressions.
  • Start with workshops, or space, to help people feel welcome (“here we all are”, an inclusive opening address etc.).
  • Social space is very important. It needs to be adequately provided and exclusive to conference goers.
  • Clear and consistent decisions need to be made for people who are transgender/transsexual. BiCon to provide exclusive space.
  • Organising social events to be given the same priority as other aspects of BiCon. Recognition to be given to people liking different things and for alternatives to be provided.
  • BiCon not to use promotional materials from organisations that marginalise or do not recognise bisexuals.

Conclusions – some questions

If we want particular standards at BiCon, what would they be – and how would we get them? Is it time for a mandated group of people to organise the conference, and to be accountable to the community ? How would such accountability be monitored? Maybe, now that the community has stability and status, we have a right to rely on more than goodwill for the organisation of anti-oppressive, welcoming, and diverse conferences.

Tim Sallis