We at Woodhull strive, always, to be responsive to the needs and concerns of members of our community. Because of that commitment, we responded quickly to a situation that occurred concerning our acceptance of a workshop for the Sexual Freedom Summit from a presenter who had admitted to abusing someone. That situation has been resolved. The presenter cancelled their workshop and will not be attending the Summit. Because of what happened, we are now reviewing our policy for future Summits. We will be sure to include community input as part of that process.
We welcome input from the communities we represent. We don’t blacklist, marginalize, or attempt to censor any detractors. We take concerns and criticisms seriously and try to work with individuals and communities to continuously improve our conference. Rather than censoring, our practice is to engage those who have concerns and we are often fortunate that they partner with us to address the concerns they brought to our attention.
That approach has led us to wonderful collaborations. For example, we are proud to work with a dynamic group of writers who feared marginalization because of their experience at other conferences to create the “Blog Squad” and ensure a welcoming, censorship-free space for all. We established an Accessibility Committee, headed by Crista Anne and Val Orenda, to make our spaces are as accessible as possible. We haven’t been able to make the Summit 100% accessible to all, yet, but each year we get closer thanks to the committee’s efforts.
Recognizing that the Summit was not as diverse on many levels as it needs to be, we launched a program where we partner with a different organization every year to create programming that is relevant and important to their constituents and to make the Summit as accessible to their members as possible. Our first year we partnered with Women of Color Sexual Health Network, this year we are partnering with In Our Own Voices and in 2018 our partner will be SisterSong.
In an effort to provide the highest quality workshops and presentations we can, we reach out to people we consider knowledgeable on the various issues covered by the Summit. Those reviewers volunteer their time, in exchange for a free registration, to evaluate workshop proposals and share their opinions with us. It is not unusual for those experts to be selected because they helped us see a gap we’d missed in a previous year.
We are not perfect, but we get better every year because we do respond to input from attendees and we do learn and grow along with every one of you.
Thank you to everyone who reached out to us, to everyone invested enough in the Summit to hold us accountable, and those of you who have offered to work with us to make the Summit even better moving forward. We are very grateful to you all.
Ricci Joy Levy
President & CEO, Woodhull Freedom Foundation