Naturalistic Neurodiversity

Exploring our differences through science.

Posts Tagged ‘American Atheists

Neurodiversity-Friendly Code of Conduct

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Greta Christina recently brought to our attention the new American Atheists Conference Code of Conduct. It’s not perfect, but it’s open to revision. As you can see from the bits I’ve underlined, neurodiverse people and those with disabilities have clearly had influence.

American Atheists, Rev 1.1, 6/26/2012 – This revision supersedes all previous revisions. 

American Atheists’ Conference Code of Conduct

American Atheists is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion.

We expect participants to follow this code of conduct at all conference venues and conference-related social events.

Yes means yes; no means no; and maybe means no. Please take no for an answer for any request or activity. You are encouraged to ask for unequivocal consent for all activities during the conference. No touching other people without asking. This includes hands on knees, backs, shoulders—and hugs (ask first!). There are folks who do not like to be touched and will respect and like you more if you respect their personal space.

We have many different folks attending this conference: sexualities, genders, races, ethnicities, abilities, beliefs—these are just a few. Blatant instances of racism, sexism, homophobia, or other stereotyping and harmful behaviors should be reported to conference staff immediately.

Please do not wear heavy fragrances—including perfumes, colognes, scented shampoos, etc. Some of those attending have allergic reactions to scented products. No one will object to the smell of your clean body!

Please respect the sessions and the speakers. Turn off cell phones and other electronic devices, take conversations and noisy children outside the session room, and move to the center of your row to make room for other attendees.

There are chairs and spaces at the front and back of the room that are marked “reserved.” The front row chairs are reserved for attendees with vision or hearing impairments. The back rows are reserved for attendees with mobility accommodation needs. Please leave these chairs and spaces free throughout the conference for those who may need them.

This conference welcomes families with children and expects all attendees to treat these families with courtesy and respect. Parents or guardians bringing children are responsible for the children’s behavior and are expected to remove disruptive children from the session. Parents or guardians should be aware not all language may be suitable for children.

American Atheists does not tolerate harassment of or by conference participants, speakers, exhibitors, volunteers, or staff in any form. Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. Anyone violating this policy may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference (without a refund) at the discretion of the conference organizers.

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of conference staff immediately. Conference staff can be identified by t-shirts/special badges/other ID.

Conference staff will be happy to help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the conference. We value your attendance.

[Email address for organizers]

[Phone number for conference security or organizers]

[Phone number for hotel/venue security]

[Local law enforcement]

[Local sexual assault hot line]

[Local emergency and non-emergency medical]

[Local taxi company]


Casual Ableism from Atheists

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Atheists generally claim to be interested in creating an inclusive space where nonbelievers of every background can feel welcome. Just do a web search for “diversity in atheism” and you see posts from Daylight Atheism, American Atheists, and Friendly Atheist, among others, all about how to open up atheism to a more diverse crowd. Women, blacks, parents, the poor – these people are traditionally left out of atheist conversations, and there’s a growing push to include them. But there’s one crucial area which still is overlooked to an alarming degree: neurodiversity.

Not all people have the “standard model” brain, and a lot of those people are proud atheists and need the support of a freethinking community. But many atheists pride themselves on being “more intelligent” than religious people, and are quick to call fundamentalists “crazy”.

Here are a few comments I’ve read recently in atheist spaces:

“You are so literal as to be autistic. Are you really that stupid?”

“PETA is creating the next wave of young adults with scary personality disorders.”

“Instead of writing a new generation of software to circumvent our filters, maybe they should recruit social misfits with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and write software that amplifies their efforts.”

That last one was from none other than PZ Myers himself.   The message is constantly being sent out by atheists everywhere: if your mind is configured differently than mine, you’re not welcome here. Which is a shame, because I can count many atheists with ADHD, autism, depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, etc, some of them as good friends and terrific contributors to the community.

If we really want atheism without barriers, we have to cut out the ableist language, now. This includes ending the crazy-bashing of Christians, because if an atheist with a mental disorder walks into a room where people are casually tossing around the words “crazy”, “retarded”, “idiotic”, etc, ze’s going to feel under attack.

Discussions which center around attacks or slander of people’s mental states aren’t only harmful, they’re lazy. The fact is, arguments from the supernatural aren’t wrong because they’re crazy, they’re wrong because they’re not supported by evidence. Dangerous people aren’t dangerous because they’re crazy, they’re dangerous because they’re threatening violence. It’s time we started taking pushing the bar higher in atheism. Let’s take ableism seriously.

Written by The Nerd

August 24, 2011 at 8:18 am