ARCHIVED: Safer Space Guidelines and Member Expectations (2015-2020)
These Guidelines were in place from March 2015 until June 2020 and are now replaced with more fulsome Member Expectations.
Our goals are to offer a safe space for people to explore polyamory, discuss resources, socialize with like-minded people, and generally build an in-person community of polyamorous minded members.
We strive to offer an environment that is fair, inclusive, transparent; where our members are respectful to one another. We strive to offer a variety of events that cater to the diversity of interests of our members: social & educational, free vs cost, and family-friendly vs adult rated.
While our focus is on polyamory, we also encourage discussion around other forms of ethical non-monogamy. We strive to offer a variety of perspectives.
Need for Action
The creation of these guidelines comes on the tail of reports of unacceptable behaviour at some of our events and in online spaces via messaging/comments. We have steadily grown our active community to be over 1,000 but with this growth and exposure, there also comes opportunities for misbehaviour to arise. The misbehaviour we are aware of and are addressing is the pestering and harassment of our members.
The creation of this set of guidelines is by decision of the Group Planning meetings of February and March 2015. We intend to counter any further untoward situations with pro-active direction whenever we become aware of it.
As a community-led, community-run group, we share the responsibility of accountability. Identified community leaders are just one component of the group. This means that we are all responsible for creating the spaces we desire, by educating ourselves, each other, and ensuring that we are in dialogue. Therefore we rely on feedback from community members to gauge group and community building success.
Please pass on any pertinent info to one of the identified organizers/event hosts. Please remember, you may not be the only one feeling the way you feel or experiencing the things you’re experiencing. It may not be an isolated situation.
The current (June 2020) identified lead organizers are Eva and Rae
All identities and narratives will be protected. If you feel uncomfortable speaking to one of the identified people, we encourage you to have someone speak to them on your behalf and you can remain anonymous.
Leaders are not above acting in an inappropriate manner at times. As part of the leadership team, we welcome any examination of our actions both publicly and privately. If you are still experiencing difficulties with one of the members on the leadership team, it is imperative you contact another member of the team so we may handle the issue in a timely manner.
If a situation arises which makes you feel like leaving our Meetup group, we would appreciate if you could let us know some details so that we might have a chance to stop this from happening to others. When removing your profile information, you will have the opportunity to share your feedback and we encourage you to do so.
These behavioural guidelines address personal conduct within any event space, any materials circulated within our events, and public and private online interactions with group members.
1. Respect your own physical, mental and emotional boundaries.
- Stay attuned to your own needs and remember that you are welcome to take space away from the group should you feel that you need time alone, or away from members.
- If something doesn’t feel right to you, please speak up. You may not be the only one who feels that way.
- If you don’t want to talk or answer a question, say so. Don’t wait for someone to “get the hint.” Try to vocalize what you need.
- Be assertive if possible. If you have a concern with someone, be direct.
2. Respect others’ physical, mental and emotional boundaries.
- Always ask for explicit verbal consent before engaging or touching someone. Never assume consent. It is important to remember that consent is not always implied, even with folks that one is typically very close to. Gaining consent is an ongoing process.
- Change your behaviour if someone tells you that you are making them uncomfortable.
- Don’t assume another person’s reasons for engaging in an event. Not everyone at a social is open to dating, looking for new partners nor may want to engage in the type of conversation related to that. This is particularly important for your dealings with new members to the group who are stretching their boundaries by even attending one of our events.
- Do not message people you have not met. Particularly, unsolicited messages to members asking for dates or private meetups are not supported. Our Meetup group is not a dating site and Polyamory Toronto is not your personal hook-up space. Messages after engaging in conversation at one of our events is supported. If it is reported that a member is sending unsolicited, unwelcome messages, you will be warned and/or removed from the group. Messages to organizers for group dynamic clarifications are always supported. If you are open to receiving unsolicited messages from stangers, please communicate this in your profile. Otherwise, assume this guideline stands.
- Listing of your personal contact information (phone numbers or email addresses) within profiles or as an event comment is not supported. You will be asked to remove such information and/or be removed from the group for non-compliance.
- Don’t assume the race, ethnicity, culture, sexuality, gender, history with violence etc. of others. Instead, ask if someone is open to engaging in dialogue about identity. Check in before discussing topics that might be triggering. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t want to answer a question.
- Find out what pronouns people use or use neutral pronouns such as “they” or “z.”
- Respect the confidentiality of others. Respect the privacy of information, narratives and experiences that others share with you.
3. Consider Positive Intent
- We are all here to learn, and we all have something to offer.
- Clarifying questions is encouraged.
- Respect diverse opinions, beliefs, and points of view. Share ideas rather than judgments.
- Use ‘I’ statements as much as possible to state your reactions or your experiences to avoid attacking others when challenging them or engaging with them about mistakes that may have been made.
- Everyone (including you) will make unintentional mistakes.
- Expect to be respectfully challenged by others if you make a mistake.
- Be aware of the effects your behaviour has on others and accept responsibility for it.
There may be times when behaviour outside of our events/group are brought to our attention and require action. We aim to treat this information delicately but swiftly. Should the organizational team agree that action is needed, the same steps will be taken as outlined below.
What happens when the safer space guide is broken and brought to our attention?
If a guideline is broken, the membership can expect the following to happen:
- The member will get a reminder from an organizer about the guidelines and how the behaviour may be in conflict with them. These persons may be asked to leave the specific event at that time.
If a breech is ongoing and/or serious:
- Removal and blocking from the group will be the consequence for ongoing and/or serious infractions. This will be determined by the organizational team. In the interest of transparency it should be noted here that the organizational team has created a spreadsheet that lists all removed and banned members, and the reason for the removal.
Suggestions on how to handle yourself when personally challenged
- If you are called out for problematic behaviour, try to be open to the feedback. Your intentions and character are not under attack, it is only the behaviour and language that is being challenged. Be open to understanding the role your behaviour has in other people’s experiences.
- We ask that you actively listen to those that question your behaviour, and that you try to validate what is being said without being defensive or dismissive about how others are feeling. This can often be difficult. Consider issuing an apology and ask for support if you require it.
- If you feel uncomfortable in the space, you have the right to ask others to respect your right to safety and inclusiveness.
Challenges to these Guidelines
We consider this document to be a live workable piece and are open to suggestions to alter or enhance the guidelines from any member.
- If you have concerns about our due process you are welcome to bring the matter to our Group Planning session. Any of our members are welcome at this session. Please watch the event page for future Monthly Group Planning sessions.
- Please notify the Group Planning event organizer(s) if you have an item to be put on the agenda.
- If you wish to be an active part of the leadership team, please join us at one of the Group Planning sessions to gain more information.
Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others~ Brene Brown