General Assembly planners are committed to acting with kindness and compassion to create an environment which provides psychological safety and actively welcomes and values all attendees. We acknowledge that discrimination and bias, even when unconscious or unintentional, negatively impact our environment and we are aware that we must first recognize where we lack in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. We also recognize that long-lasting, meaningful change requires acknowledgement, conversation and education in order to actively remove barriers that exist in our community and, ultimately, General Assembly.
Diversity is the spectrum of difference. Diversity can refer to a range of identities such as – but not limited to – race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, (dis)ability, age, religion, body size, parental status, veteran status, education, values and beliefs, and/or other social identities.
Equity recognizes that advantages and barriers exist, and that, as a result, we do not all start from the same place. Equity is a process that begins by acknowledging this unequal starting place and making a commitment to correct and address the imbalance.
Inclusion is an action that ensures that everyone, including those with historically excluded identities, are welcomed, psychologically safe, supported, valued, and that their voices are heard.
Belonging is being able to bring your authentic self to General Assembly, make meaningful contributions and connections, and own all of your identities without fear or risk of negative consequences.
The General Assembly Accessibilities Services Team works with the General Assembly (GA) Planning Committee, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) administration, and GA attendees to coordinate services and accommodations for members of the GA Community, and to seek out opportunities to raise awareness around inclusion and accessibility.
Every effort will be made to provide you with accommodations or assistive equipment to enable or enhance your GA experience. Beyond the physical accessibility of the facilities we use—ramps, captioning, seating cut-outs, etc.—we endeavor to take the next step: to truly welcome people with disabilities into every facet of GA. Whether you're attending in person or virtually, an Accessibility Services Coordinator will be available before and during GA to provide information and coordinate assistance to individuals with accessibility needs.
Economic accessibility continues to be a primary consideration. General Assembly (GA) Planners are committed to the goal of making the General Assembly accessible to the maximum number of attendees possible. The General Assembly and Conference Services office seeks sites for General Assembly by focusing on a combination of affordability, accessibility, and opportunity. The UUA secures contracts with local hotels negotiating the lowest possible rates for our attendees and, where possible, securing alternative low-cost lodging such as local university dormitories, when available.
By providing a multi-platform event with robust virtual programming and opportunities for engagement, we retain our dedication to community and make our experience more accessible and more environmentally sustainable.
Gender Neutral Bathrooms
For transgender and/or gender non-conforming people, the use of public restrooms can come with emotional and physical harassment. Many restrooms throughout the Convention Center are designated for use by all genders. Gender-specific men’s and women’s restrooms are also available. We ask you to trust that individuals know which restroom is most comfortable and appropriate for them.
When choosing what restroom to use, we encourage you to thoughtfully examine and challenge your assumptions around gender identity and gender expression. We invite compassionate and ongoing dialogue around these issues. It is important to remember that personal processing should not be done with transgender and/or gender non-conforming people. We encourage you to contact a GA chaplain if you need support in this work. More about Welcoming Bathrooms
All GA registrants will have the opportunity to select their pronouns, if desired, and have this display on their GA name badge in-person or in the virtual space.
Often, people make assumptions about the gender of another person based on the person’s appearance or name. These assumptions aren’t always correct, and the act of making an assumption (even if correct) sends a potentially harmful message -- that people have to look a certain way to demonstrate the gender that they are or are not.
Using someone’s correct personal pronouns is a way to respect them and create an inclusive environment, just as using a person’s name can be a way to respect them. Just as it can be offensive or even harassing to make up a nickname for someone and call them that nickname against their will, it can be offensive or harassing to guess at someone’s pronouns and refer to them using those pronouns if that is not how that person wants to be known. Or, worse, actively choosing to ignore the pronouns someone has stated that they go by could imply the oppressive notion that intersex, transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people do not or should not exist. Source: Pronouns.org
- The Accessibility Team assists registered participants - attending either in-person or online - who have questions or concerns about accessibility and inclusion during GA.
- GA Chaplains manage and coordinate care for registered attendees experiencing spiritual or physical crisis during GA.
- The Covenant Team assists registered attendees of virtual General Assembly who are in conflict and/or whose actions violate the GA covenant.
- The Inclusivity Review Team work closely with the Worship Arts Team to apply ARAOMC lens to General Assembly pre-recorded video, written materials, and musical content to implement the UUA's Anti-Racist, Anti-Oppressive, Multi-Cultural principles.
- The Safety Team will respond to and intervene in incidents of harm, attend to crises both medical and emotional and interact with outside agencies including the police towards the safety of convening participants.
- The GA Systemic Justice Team assists registered attendees from currently and/or historically marginalized communities in creating structural change by providing access and advocacy to challenge and change oppressive structures and/or systems.
Let us remember our Unitarian Universalist commitment to the worth and dignity of all people. The UUA affirms its commitment to maintain an environment free of discrimination and harassment based on race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, or disability. The Association expects all attendees to conduct themselves in a professional manner with concern and respect for all.
During General Assembly, we gather to build relationships, which requires a commitment to remaining present to issues of power when feeling challenged. A Covenant alone can never be perfect nor lead to perfect behavior; community requires practice. We invite you to adopt the following practices while speaking from your truth and acknowledging your privilege.
- Honor multiple truths - Your viewpoint, opinions, and actions have intent and impact. In cross-cultural interactions, your INTENT may be to speak from your truth and not cause harm. However, if you are not also invested in the other person’s truth then they can experience the IMPACT as harmful. This is particularly true when people with white privilege see their opinion as the universal experience. Which leads to…
- Consider your social location - Each of us holds multiple identities with respect to race, class, ability, gender, sexuality, age, and more. Depending on where we are and who we are with, sometimes we are in a position of power and privilege, sometimes we are disempowered or marginalized, and often there’s a mix. Recognize your power and notice the power dynamics around you. Practice using your privilege to create more space for those on the margins.
- Practice care toward yourself and those you engage with - With thousands of UUs gathered, the one universal truth is: You are going to have difficult conversations this week! Practice care. If you’re in a position of privilege, practice letting go of assumptions, taking your cue from the other person/s, sitting with your discomfort, and/or pausing to consider how to process the conversation. If you have one or more marginalized identities, you may want to assess how much spiritual energy you have to give to the conversation, end a conversation by asking the other person to check in with an accountability partner, and/or seek out care for yourself. Either way, consider finding your people for accountability and/or support (find the Conflict & Covenant Team if you need help).