Guidelines for Workshop Facilitators and Attendees:
LaDIYfest Sheffield,29th Nov 2014
We’ve put together the following guide which we would appreciate you taking the time to read carefully in advance of the event on Saturday 29th November. As well as circulating this to all of the participants involved in facilitating the workshops, we will also be publishing this online and displaying it at the event for the attention of people attending.
All LaDIYfest events and meetings are run according to the safe spaces policy on our blog so please have a quick look. Please also check our ethos if you would like to know more about us and what we stand for. We also have an accessibility policy and would ask anyone who has any specific needs or queries to contact us in advance to discuss.
We believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to challenge oppression and ensure others are treated with respect and feel safe. However, we feel that as a workshop leader, discussions facilitator or helper you have an increased responsibility to (i) inform yourself and be mindful of the many forms of oppressions that exist, (ii) make sure this informs your behaviour, (iii) keep an eye out for any dominating/oppressing behaviour, and (iv) challenge it constructively. We of course understand that everyone has different levels of confidence in tackling these situations, and there are some suggestions to help you with this below.
If you don’t feel confident challenging it yourself, you can ask for support from the group or anyone around [organisers and volunteer facilitators will be present, hopefully with someone sat in every session]. A lot of oppressions are not intended, and hopefully most people are well-intentioned and will take challenges on board, so we’d like to encourage you to be straightforward and firm but not aggressive.
We also know it can be hard (we’ve been there) to be sensitive to all the ways in which people may be oppressed, especially when focusing on your facilitation. Just be aware and do your best, and there will be other people around to help you out!
- Establishing ground rules at the beginning of your session, includinga reminder for participants to respect each other and let each person express themselves without interrupting,and discussthe safe space policy andthe use of the quiet room
- Gender is not a binary concept, and some people use and want to be referred to using gender-neutral pronouns. (eg. their, zie, hir). Having a go-round at the beginning of your session, where people say their name and the pronoun they want to be referred to as can help to establish this. A simple way to do this without a grammar lesson is to get everyone to introduce themselves in the 3rd person (as if they were talking about someone else, e.g. “her name is Alex”, “their name is Max”). Getting everyone else to repeat this can be a good way to help participants get used to using the correct pronoun.If at any time you are unsure how a person wishes to be identified, perhaps call people ‘person’, e.g. ‘the person in the red dress’, ‘that person in the fluffy hat’, rather than risk incorrectly gendering them.
- Asking for participants to raise hands with comments or questions and ensure people get to speak in a fair order
- Encouraging people who haven’t spoken yet to contribute (without putting individuals on the spot!), and asking people who have spoken lots to leave some space for others to express themselves
- Watching out for the talking space being dominated by cis men or people with other privileges at the detriment of others without these privileges
- Being aware that anyone in the space could be a survivor of a particular form of oppression, for example, sexual violence or racism
- If someone is feeling uncomfortable, do not hesitate to raise this (and remind people to make use of the quiet room)
- If you feel like someone’s behaviour needs challenging, you can use Non Violent Communication approach, which basically follows this format: 1) make a statement observing what is going on with no judgement attached; 2) say a feeling; 3) state a need; 4) make a simple request that’s achievable.
- Have the confidence (if necessary) to ask people to stop talking, calm down, or even take a break, and ensure that people understand that a safer spaces policy applies.Don’t be afraid to ask someone to leave a session if needed.
We hope this briefing is useful and you don’t feel intimidated or patronised by it. We want to actively foster an environment where we can all become more aware of the needs of others and feel comfortable expressing our own needs. It’s OK to make mistakes as long as we are willing to correct them; and if you are unsure about anything, it’s OK to ask!
If anyone has anything they would like to add to the above, or any questions or anything they would like to discuss with us then please feel free to contact the LaDIYfest team via firstname.lastname@example.org!
(Big thanks to the Sladyfest collective in Manchester for writing a great guide to feminist events which we have adapted here).