Guidelines

BiCon UK: Guidelines

These guidelines were adopted unanimously at the plenary of BiCon 16, and also include the amendments passed at subsequent BiCons up to and including 2013.

These guidelines define what BiCon should be and what BiCon organisers are expected to do. If organisers feel they can't fulfil any of these requirements, or want to change them, they should say so when they volunteer to run the event at a BiCon plenary. Changes to these guidelines should be passed by simple majority by two successive BiCons.

A. What BiCon is and what it should contain

  1. BiCon is the UK national bisexual conference or convention. (We're bored of arguing about which.)
  2. BiCon should be open to all bisexuals, their friends and allies, and anyone with a positive interest in bisexuality.
  3. BiCon is run by volunteers, and should ideally be run by a different set of people and in a different place, from year to year.
  4. Groups running BiCon may be of any structure, but should be explicit about how they are organised. [1]
  5. BiCon should happen annually, generally between June and October and should be at least a two day event, including a Saturday. [2]
  6. BiCon should contain at least one plenary at which decisions about future BiCons can be made. [3]
  7. BiCon should contain at least one programme stream of workshops/sessions, where smaller groups of people can participate. Workshops should largely be run by volunteers from the bi community, and BiCon should never be taken over by professional speakers or facilitators. [4]
  8. No national or local bisexual group or organisation should be denied the opportunity to run a session (ideally no-one should be denied this, but there may well be a lack of space or time).
  9. There should be at least one party or social. Ideally there should be social events throughout BiCon.
  10. It should be possible for people from the bi community to sell their own bi related materials (zines, t-shirts, badges etc). [5]
  11. Deadlines should be made clear. Ideally extra space should be provided for last minute items.
  12. There should be chill out space. [6]
  13. The information sent out in advance should include local information, information about how to get to BiCon and registration desk times
  14. Plenaries should not be scheduled against other sessions so that all attendees can take part.

B. Access and anti discrimination issues

B1. Statement of intent

BiCon should have an unashamedly forthright stance on the inclusion of people of all marginalised or oppressed groups. Every effort should be made to increase the accessibility and inclusivity of BiCon for all attendees; this is the case whether or not their particular marginalisation or oppression is covered by current UK or EU legislation. BiCon does not, however, endorse or support behaviour which interferes with the rights of others.

B2. Policies and systems

BiCon should have published policies which include anti-harassment, anti-discrimination and confidentiality. People who consistently or seriously breach these policies . for example by harassing others, for any reason, including sexually or on the grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender or sexuality, or by breaching another attendee.s confidentiality . should be required to leave and may be banned from future BiCons. BiCon should have a system in place to allow people to report harassment, discrimination and other incidents anonymously.

B3. Intersectionality

BiCon is for bisexuals, their friends and allies. Many people who are members of multiple disadvantaged groups and have intersectional identities e.g. bisexual and Christian or bisexual and Black or lesbian and disabled, experience multiple discrimination. Organisers should be aware of intersectionality and do their best to balance meeting the needs of people in different groups and combinations of groups whilst minimising further marginalisation of anyone who is already marginalised. Where an .either/or. decision has to be made, organisers may choose to decide on the side of the group most marginalised in BiCon spaces.

B4. Responsibility for inclusion and diversity

The responsibility for inclusion and accessibility for members of oppressed and marginalised groups should not be automatically delegated to people in those groups. Organisers should be encouraged to seek opinions and recommendations from people and organisations representing relevant groups without over-burdening individuals. Organisers should publish contact details for themselves. They should also publicly encourage individuals or groups to approach them for assistance with making arrangements related to marginalisation-related needs, rather than putting in place .one size fits all. solutions.

B5. Inclusivity of spaces and sessions

Organisers should consider the inclusivity and accessibility of all parts of BiCon to people from oppressed and marginalised groups, from planning onwards. This includes session spaces, social spaces and in particular evening entertainments and the appropriateness of any themes chosen.

B6. Restricted and safer sessions and spaces

BiCon should facilitate, if requested, the provision of session and social spaces which are only open to a restricted group e.g. bisexual, Black and minority ethnic (BME), trans or disabled people. BiCon may also offer sessions restricted to specified gender(s). In accepting sessions with restrictions on who may attend, care should be taken to avoid further marginalising already marginalised groups. Where restrictions exist, these should be very clearly advertised.

B7. Race, Ethnicity, Nationality

BiCon should take a proactive approach to reduce and minimise its institutional racism and aim to become a more accessible, inclusive and welcoming place for black and minority ethnic (BME) people. Ways in which BiCon may do this include, but are not limited to: having specific race/cultural awareness policies which are communicated to all who are attending; seeking out facilitators to provide awareness and education sessions for BiCon attendees during BiCon itself; encouraging organisers to seek out and access training and education on race, ethnicity and nationality.

B8. Faith/Religion/Belief

BiCon should be accessible to and positively support people of all religions and faith systems, and people who have none. Organisers should recognise and challenge discriminatory language, behaviour and attitudes towards people of all religions and faith systems and towards people who have none. Organisers should bear in mind the enormous diversity of belief and expression amongst people broadly described as religious. Organisers should be aware that religious identity is often closely tied to cultural identity and that anti-religious expression can be problematic within any space that wishes to be diverse and culturally inclusive. At the same time organisers should also recognise that many people who attend BiCon have had difficult personal experiences of religions.

B9. Gender and trans

BiCon should be an accessible and inclusive place for people of different genders and none. BiCon should accept people.s self-identity as any gender(s) or none. Sessions with gender restrictions should be open to all people identifying themselves as belonging to the gender(s) that the session is open to, with an effort being made to ensure that those who identify as other than .man. or .woman. are included where appropriate rather than being excluded from all gender restricted workshops.

Where some facilities e.g. toilets, are restricted on the basis of gender, efforts should be made to provide non-gender specific facilities (for these purposes single occupancy facilities are considered to be non-gender specific facilities). Non-gender specific facilities should not be the only option available, where possible. Whatever is available should be clearly advertised.

B10. Disability

BiCon should be accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities, including those with invisible impairments. BiCon literature published before the event (including the website) should give a clear description of the accessibility of the site being used, details of adjustments BiCon can make on request, as well as details of how someone can contact BiCon with specific accessibility requests. Accommodation should be provided which is suitable for people with mobility or sensory impairments. BiCon literature should also be made available in alternative formats on request. In planning the programme, consideration should be given to the need for adequate breaks between sessions. The Equalities Fund [see B15] is available to fund additional costs of attending BiCon that may be incurred by people with disabilities (e.g. carer.s costs) and this should be publicised appropriately.

B11. Age and young people

BiCon should be accessible and inclusive for adults of all ages. BiCon should have a published policy relating to the attendance of unaccompanied people under the age of majority attending in their own right, or as the dependants of adult attendees.

B12. Parents of children

BiCon should aim to be accessible to parents of young children. Where there is not sufficient demand for, or it is not possible to provide formal child care facilities, BiCon should consider what alternatives it may be reasonable to provide instead e.g. giving a parent a reduced cost BiCon, or putting parents in touch with each other to share childcare responsibilities.

B13. Sexuality

Whilst being the UK.s national bisexual conference/convention, BiCon should be open to people of all sexualities. Hetero/homophobia should not be tolerated.

B14. Social class

BiCon should be accessible to people regardless of social class or socio-economic background. The use of pejorative language about people's class e.g. 'common' should be challenged in the same way as other pejorative language, as should any attempts to define people's class or socio-economic background.

B15. Financial access

BiCon should be as accessible as possible to people on low incomes. Means should include a variable price scheme, an Equalities Fund and one-day tickets. These methods should all be publicised. The Equalities Fund should be used to remove or alleviate barriers that may prevent people from otherwise attending BiCon. The Equalities Fund should not be something that is usually used to enable unwaged people, with no other barriers, to attend BiCon, as the unwaged price band should account for that.

B16. Alcohol free spaces

There should be provision for alcohol-free social spaces during the day and evening. Where alcohol is permitted in daytime session spaces this should be clearly indicated in the programme. Daytime session spaces are usually not suitable for people who are intoxicated. People who are intoxicated, whether through alcohol or other substances may be asked to leave public BiCon spaces and are likely to be asked to be leave daytime session spaces. BiCon attendees are still required to comply with the Code of Conduct if they are intoxicated.

B17. Smoking

All outdoor space at BiCon, with the exception of designated smokers. areas, will be non-smoking. Smoking areas should be advertised clearly.

B18. Food

Organisers should provide as much detailed information about how attendees can manage food and eating as possible. This should include details of the kitchen facilities and equipment available, if any, where food can be purchased and information about what kind of food this is. Where possible, the food requirements of people with differing dietary needs should be considered.

C. Financial

  1. BiCon should produce detailed accounts within three months after the event. These should be published and be made readily available to interested parties. [7]
  2. If BiCon makes a surplus, this should be passed on to future BiCon organisers. If the surplus reaches a higher total than is needed to run the next BiCon it should be donated to other appropriate organisations. Decisions about donations should be made at a BiCon plenary. [8]

D. Feedback and decision making

  1. There should be ample opportunity for attendees to give their views of BiCon. There should be a feedback form for the benefit of attendees and future BiCon organisers. [9]
  2. Decisions about who should run future BiCons, BiCon surpluses, and any changes to these guidelines should be made at a BiCon plenary.
  3. Plenaries should be minuted and the results reported in BCN and on uk.bi (or their equivalents) and be readily available. Where it impossible to keep such decisions for BiCon they should be put up for discussion in these forums. [10]

Passed at BiCon 16 final plenary: 6th September 1998. Amended at decision-making plenaries at the BiCons in 2003, 2004, 2008/2009, 2010/2011, 2011/2012 and 2012/2013.


Footnotes

These are not formally part of the adopted guidelines; they were added by Alison Rowan in 1998 and updated by Jon Harley in 2009 and Grant Denkinson in 2013. They are intended to clarify the intention behind some of the guidelines with background information.

  • [1] For instance previous BiCons have been run by collectives, by a core group with helpers, and by dictatorships with helpers.
  • [2] In most years BiCon has been a three day event. Generally on a Friday/Saturday/Sunday, but sometimes on Saturday/Sunday/Monday (on a bank holiday) and once on a Thursday/Friday/Saturday (because it was in a Methodist Hall). Anyone wanting to run an event of longer than three days (plus early events the previous evening) should check with a BiCon plenary.
  • [3] Traditionally decisions have been made at the final plenary, but it has been pointed out that this is often too late for people who need to catch the last train home. There is also a lot to be said for ending on a positive note, with a closing ceremony of some kind, so an earlier decision making plenary is now considered best practice.
  • [4] We do mean taken over. Professionals are very welcome to run workshops, appear on panels etc, though we should think hard before paying them unless we can afford to pay all our facilitators, but we don't want, for instance, an outside body to say 'here is ten thousand pounds, now you have to do it our way'.
  • [5] That doesn't mean BiCon organisers are obliged to sell things for people – that would be far too much work. Anyone wanting to sell anything should be prepared to at least work a shift on the merchandise stall. BiCon will not normally be liable for stolen or mislaid merchandise (though we've usually managed to make the figures add up).
  • [6] Chill out space is any space where BiCon attendees can sit down outside of organised sessions. This includes a bar, cafe or lobby (if it has enough seats), but should preferably be for BiCon only.
  • [7] Readily available means that copies should be sent out on request and on receipt of an SAE.
  • [8] BiCons usually budget to break even (and then often make a profit) but if the venue is expensive and BiCon Continuity Ltd. agree, it is OK to budget to make a loss.
  • [9] It has been suggested that organisers should write a short report for future organisers. Some BiCons have already done this.
  • [10] We don't mean that all plenaries should be written down in detail, but all decisions should be recorded, along with any significant opposition.