Safe space policy & posting guidelines

Table of contents

1. Overview
— 1.1. Scope of the policy
2. Call-outs: your rights and tips on exercising them
— 2.1. Who may confront users
— 2.2. What you can expect in BIP spaces
— 2.3. Tips on how to call someone out
3. Safe space policies
— 3.1. One-strike rule
— 3.2. Two-strike rule
— 3.3. Zero tolerance policy

1. Overview

In order to create and maintain safe space for the people who use Body Image Positive (BIP), we’ve set up a safe space committee that will always be looking to make BIP’s spaces more and more inclusive. The committee has put in place policies that are to be adhered to at all times when participating in BIP events, writing and commenting on the BIP blog, and interacting with others in BIP’s social media spaces. If you have questions or feedback regarding our safe space policy and the posting guidelines below, please do not hesitate to contact one of our safe space committee members. The committee is here for you and always wants to know how it can improve BIP’s safe spaces.

1.2. Scope of the policy

This policy applies to all areas under the administration of BIP, including (but not limited to):

  • The BIP website and blog
  • The events organized and held by BIP
  • All social media accounts operated by BIP (including Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

The policies outlined in this document will be executed in all of these spaces, as well as any other virtual or physical spaces administered by BIP.

This policy applies to all users of BIP’s physical and virtual spaces, and by participating in BIP activities and discussions, all users agree to be bound by this policy.

2. Call-outs: your rights and some tips on exercising them

2.1. Who may confront users

There are bound to be moments when you’re in a BIP space and you feel uncomfortable, triggered or otherwise unsafe. It can be hard to express ourselves when we’re feeling angry or emotionally-charged, but it is important that we hold each other accountable. Below, you will find some tips on how to call others out, but if none of these methods work for you, please never hesitate to contact a member of our safe space committee so that they can work with you to find a solution.

2.2. What you can expect in BIP’s spaces

You have rights in BIP’s spaces that moderators and safe space committee members will fiercely defend. This is meant to be a safe space for all, and with that, you can expect that certain policies have been put in place.

What your rights actually are in BIP’s spaces:

  1. You have the right to refer to yourself using whichever terms you identify with and the right to be referred to by others in the same way (for instance, you have the right to be referred to by your preferred pronouns)
  2. You have the right to express your own personal, lived experiences without fear of attack or silencing
  3. You have the right to respectfully tell others when their behaviour is hurtful or triggering to you
  4. You have the right to make honest mistakes and learn from them for next time
  5. You have the right to contact a safe space committee member at any time if you feel uncomfortable in a BIP space

What your rights are not in BIP’s spaces:

  1. You do not have the right to silence other people or knowingly make them feel unsafe
  2. You do not have the right to keep doing things that you have already been told are offensive to others
  3. You do not have the right to suggest that you are an expert on someone else’s experience
  4. You do not have the right to appropriate someone else’s experience as though it’s your own, or speculate on other people’s motivations or feelings without an invitation to do so

2.3. Tips on how to call someone out

If someone says something that hurts or triggers you, or if their behaviour makes you feel unsafe, you are always welcome to speak out about it to the offender. (If you do not feel comfortable doing so, please do not hesitate to contact one of our safe space committee members and they will address the situation instead.)

It can be hard to know exactly what to say, and how to be respectful and clear all at the same time. Here are some ways you might phrase an objection to someone else’s behaviour or terminology.

Express that the word or behaviour makes you feel unsafe, and suggest an alternative:

“When you say the word _______, I feel triggered and unsafe. Could you please use the word _______ instead?”

“When you put the focus on _______ group, it feels like victim-blaming, which is very upsetting to _______ people. Perhaps we could shift the focus to this perspective instead…”

Refer back to BIP’s style guide or the safe space policy & posting guidelines for objectionable language or behaviour:

“As per BIP’s style guide, _______ is not a word that is considered safe in this space. Please review the style guide for the appropriate term and use that term in the future.”

“Your behaviour seems to be inconsistent with the safe space policy. Please see this page…”

If applicable and desired, mention that you have a personal connection to the group that is being discussed, and use this insight to suggest a way forward:

“As a member of the _______ group, this tone/terminology has proven very problematic in many discussions about my group. In my experience, this other tone/terminology works much better…”

If you’re not sure how to articulate why you feel upset, but you feel negatively about someone else’s language or behaviour, perhaps just try saying as much and appealing to others to contribute:

“I can’t exactly explain why, but I found your comment very upsetting. If someone else found it upsetting and may be able to elaborate on why, could they please chime in? In the mean time, could you [the offending user] please modify your tone/language, or step out of the conversation for a moment?”

Please note that if someone tells you they feel triggered or unsafe because of your behaviour, this may be considered in the one- and two-strike rules and zero tolerance policy (outlined below). Moderators may, at their discretion, consider user objections as grounds to apply these policies. BIP representatives will also be present in all spaces whenever possible to moderate content that has already been deemed inappropriate.

3. Safe space policies

These policies are based on behaviours, language and attitudes that are used in BIP’s spaces. Call-outs can be made by any member of the BIP community and can, at the discretion of moderators, be used to execute the one- and two-strike rules and/or the zero tolerance policy. Deletion of content or asking participants to leave (temporarily or permanently) will be carried out by BIP moderators. Non-moderator users of BIP’s spaces will never be required to take on the responsibility of confronting or ejecting a person whose comments have been deemed offensive or triggering. However, any user may exercise their right to call out offensive behaviour in BIP’s physical or virtual spaces and these call-outs can and will be applied to the one- and two-strike rules at the moderators’ discretion. Alternatively, users who feel uncomfortable confronting other users about objectionable content may contact a safe space committee member at any time to seek assistance.

3.1. One-strike rule

BIP is a space for learning. Keeping this in mind, users can–and will–make mistakes without fear of being reprimanded or banned from BIP. However, all users are expected to enter BIP spaces with a sense of humility and compassion. If someone says something that is hurtful to other members, they will be told that their behaviour is hurtful and must not be continued. If the user repeats the offense or displays an attitude that suggests they are not willing to adjust their behaviour for the comfort of other participants, they will receive a strike. If the interaction takes place in a BIP social media space or on the BIP blog, the comment in question will be deleted. If the interaction takes place during an offline BIP event, the offending individual will be asked to leave the event.

An example of how this rule would work in practice (using made-up offensive language) is below.

Person A: “I ran into a Blaur woman the other day, who told me an interesting story.”

Person B: “As someone who shares this identity with this woman, I feel I should mention that using the word Blaur is very offensive to me and others in my group. The correct term is Blaurin. Please use that term instead.”

Scenario 1: Person A would not receive a strike (as long as they followed through as promised):

Person A: “I’m sorry that I used an offensive term. I will use the term Blaurin from now on.”

Scenario 2: Person A would receive a strike and their contribution would be deleted, or they would be asked to leave the event (trigger warning for language that shows a refusal to check privilege):

Person A: “Isn’t that violating my freedom of speech? Besides, I have a Blaur friend, and she says it’s OK to say it, so I’m going to continue using the word in BIP spaces.”

Scenario 3: Person A would not receive a strike (as long as they followed through as promised):

Person A: “I’m sorry if I triggered you. You see, I identify as Blaur myself and I actually find the term Blaurin very offensive. However, I am happy to use Blaurin when referring to you and others in our group, if I may continue to use Blaur to describe myself.”

Person B: “Thank you. I will also refer to you as Blaur, in that case.”

3.2. Two-strike rule

Individuals who receive a strike on two separate occasions (that is to say, are asked to leave two different events, or whose comments need to be deleted more than once) will be asked not to return to BIP’s spaces. This means they will no longer be welcome at offline BIP events or on BIP’s blog and social media spaces. Very rare exceptions may be made if the offender can clearly demonstrate a change in attitude and the safe space committee feels confident that the individual will no longer damage BIP’s safe spaces.

3.3. Zero tolerance policy

BIP moderators reserve the right to decline to publish or delete any content that:

  • Is overtly demeaning to others
  • Includes personal attacks
  • Is verbally or physically violent
  • Uses hateful language
  • Moderators have already been told is triggering for other BIP users

At no time does a BIP moderator have to justify the removal of content that could clearly and reasonably cause emotional distress to other users, based on the feedback that BIP has already received.