Confidentiality & Ground Rules

As generally-agreed by the group at BiTalkia on 23 Feb 2015, and useful for BiTopia as well.

If you disagree with something on this list, or would like to suggest something to be added, please comment or otherwise get in touch. Thanks!

Confidentiality

  • Unless someone’s told you that they’re happy to be “out” to the whole world, don’t tell others that someone’s bi, or that you crossed paths at this event.
    (Of course, coming to an event doesn’t actually mean you are bi – you might have come with a friend, or just because you were interested. But still, some people might be in vulnerable situations where even being known to have visited a group might have some kind of bad consequences for them. So it’s best to be on the safe side.)
    If someone else innocently enquires one day “Where do you two know each other from?”, possible replies include “we’ve got friends in common” or “we got chatting in the pub / at a thing”. (We hope you’ll have found the group friendly enough that by then, “friends in common” wouldn’t be a fib.)
  • Be cautious with people’s other business, too – if in doubt, don’t pass it on. If someone else’s story gave you an insight, and you want to talk elsewhere about what it meant to you, think about how to do that in a respectful way, without details that would identify them.
  • Even though someone doesn’t mind you knowing a thing, they don’t necessarily want it brought up another time. For instance, someone might tell a story from their life in a small group discussion, and still not want you to re-start a conversation about that story another day.
  • All this also applies to things like livetweeting or blog writeups. Only share (a) your own business or (b) what you’re sure is OK to share, and if in doubt, ask.

Touching

  • No touching other people without asking! And no touching other people’s assistance equipment without asking, either. (e.g. wheelchair, stick, electronics.)
  • If you feel an impulse to connect in a friendly way, a useful expression is “Hugs, high five or a wave?” It’s a lower-stress question than “would you like a hug?” because it offers more answering-options than “yes or no”.

Invitations/requests

  • It’s OK to ask someone if they want to do something. It’s also OK to say no, with or without a reason. If they don’t wanna, they don’t wanna. They can decide later to get back to you if they change their mind, so don’t pester.
  • If you’re the one asking, think about how to ask in a way that helps people not to feel pressured or “bounced into” something. Give people time to think. If possible, offer more options than “yes” or “no”.

Photos

  • Only take photos if:
    • everyone in the photo has actively chosen to be in it
    • everyone in the photo knows what you’re going to do with the photo, and is happy with that use of it
    • you also have permission from anyone whose handwriting is shown in the photo (thinking here mainly of BiTalkia).
  • No photos which accidentally include the wifi password for the building!

Respecting other people’s choices, cultures, and insights about their own lives

  • When you’re talking, speak for yourself: “I think this…”, not “Everyone thinks this”.
  • If you want to be politically incorrect for fun, don’t do it here. No rape “jokes”, no other jokes where the “joke” is really about lack of consent, or about adding to the stigma of a stigmatised group. Pure silliness and bad puns are welcome!
  • Anywhere you’ve had the luck of the draw, such as being white or male or in good health, assume there’s lots you don’t know about being on the flip side of that. Remember that your experience of how the world works is your experience.
  • BiTopia and BiTalkia are trans-friendly spaces. We accept trans people’s self-defined genders. If you’re not sure whether to refer to someone as “he”, “she” or a non-binary pronoun such as “they”, it’s OK to ask, in a low-key friendly way.
  • BiTopia and BiTalkia are fat-friendly spaces. Don’t talk as though everyone wants to be thinner; don’t assume that you can guess someone’s health and fitness by their size.
  • Assume there may be people in the room who are invisibly disabled, &/or have atypical neurology such as being autistic, &/or have mental health issues, &/or are living with HIV, &/or are survivors of abuse, &/or sell or have sold sex. Assume that some of us are religious and some are not.
  • And finally… remember not to assume that everyone here is bi! though most of us probably are!

Any problems…

If something happens that you’re not happy with, please let the organiser(s) know. Even if it’s only a small thing, and even if you’ve sorted it out already by talking directly to the person concerned, it’s useful for us to stay aware of the group’s climate. Unless someone was at serious risk, we would keep the conversation confidential, so it wouldn’t “come back to you” that you were the one who spoke to us. If you have a problem with one of us, please go to the other one or to someone else you trust.

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