Handout 1-1: The 8 Guidelines for Equity and Inclusion, and Covenant

Part of Authentic Selves

As we work through this curriculum together, we will keep these guidelines, adapted from ones created by Visions, Inc., as part of our covenant.

  1. Try on new concepts. This is an invitation to be open to others’ ideas, feelings, worldview s, and ways of doing things so that greater exploration and understanding are possible. You may encounter stories that challenge your ideas or concepts of sex, gender, and identity. We invite you to carry those things that challenge you to consider at later times.
  2. It’s okay to disagree. Disagreement not only is inevitable but can help individuals and groups produce better outcomes. However, this cannot and should not include “disagreeing with” (refusing to accept and respect) someone’s gender or sexual identity. By acknowledging what we have in common and by recognizing, understanding, and appreciating our differences, both individuals and groups can relieve the pressure to be, think, or act the same. When we assume that we can and will disagree but commit to remaining connected to one another and allowing space for different beliefs, we increase our ability to generate the widest possible variety of ideas and strategies.
  3. It is never okay to blame, shame, belittle, or attack others or ourselves. Most of us have learned to show our disagreement by making the other person wrong. This can happen in direct and indirect, verbal and nonverbal ways. When we engage in this behavior, we are less likely to problem-solve across our differences.
  4. Practice self-focus. Our learning about differences can be accelerated and maximized when we listen to our internal thoughts, feelings, and reactions, not necessarily processing them in the group, but setting them aside to process later. When we grow irritated with someone because they believe something different from us, we can blame or shame them or ourselves, or we can figure out, either in the moment or later, what caused our irritation. An effective way to make certain you are doing this in conversations where differences of opinion are being aired is to make certain to use “I” statements, rather than “we,” “you,” or “they” statements. If referring to others, be specific about who the others are by naming them or their group and explaining why it is relevant to bring them up. The most productive “I” statements use phrases like “I have found,” “I think,” “I feel,” “I believe,” or “I learned,” and include any relevant feeling words, like “mad” or “relieved.”
  5. Notice both the process and the content. It’s important not just to notice what we ourselves say or do, and how and why we say or do it, but also to notice and incorporate how the group reacts. Who verbally responds or doesn’t, who seems actively engaged, who is uncomfortable? When during our words or actions did they respond that way? In addition to the responses of others, consider your own reactions to yourself.
  6. Practice both/and thinking. Rather than seeing reality as strictly either/or, with each idea either right or wrong, good or bad, this or that (dichotomous thinking), remember that several ideas and perspectives can be true at the same time (diunital thinking). “Both/and” thinking can be helpful in reconciling complicated differences and conflicts. For example, we can acknowledge that testosterone-rich people sometimes develop greater muscle mass than estrogen-rich people; and that estrogen supplements rapidly reduce those strength advantages; and that many of the transgender girls and women being blocked from competitive sports used puberty blockers, meaning that their muscle mass never averaged more than that of their cisgender peers; and that the slightly greater muscle mass cited in a few cases is neither replicable nor consistent. We also remember the wide spectrum of human diversity, which gives us swimmers like Michael Phelps (who is extremely tall, with a disproportionately long upper body and short legs) and gymnasts like Simone Biles (who is only four feet eight inches tall); their statistically unusual physical forms don’t disqualify them from their sports but rather help them excel. Either/or thinking would keep us from understanding how all of those things can be true.
  7. Be aware of both the intent and the impact of your actions. Especially in cross-cultural interactions (across race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexuality, gender, political beliefs, etc.), our intent may not match our impact. Our words or actions may be hurtful or harmful even when we mean well. We need to be willing to take risks and receive honest feedback about the impact of our words and actions on others. To interact successfully across differences, we must be willing to shift our behaviors and actions so that people who are different from us feel fully valued and included.
  8. Respect confidentiality. We honor personal sharing and do not repeat personal details outside of the group. People may be comfortable sharing personal information in a specific setting or context, but not outside it. Respecting confidentiality means that if someone shares information in confidence, we do not bring it up in a different setting or context without first privately asking their permission to do so. It also means that we will never weaponize something someone has shared, either in another setting or in the same one, with the intention of hurting or punishing them.


Covenantal commitments from the UUA Small Group Ministry Network

We will respect the 8 Guidelines for Equity and Inclusion.
We will listen from the heart.
We will speak honestly from the heart.
We will not give unasked-for advice.
We will not judge others by what they say.
We will not treat other people’s problems lightly.
We will honor the diversity of thoughts and feelings.
We will honor the times for reflection with quietness.
We will honor and respect our time together.
We each have the right to pass (choose not to speak).
What is shared here stays here (confidentiality).
We will share time equally.
We will be attentive listeners and not interrupt each other.
We will not use this group as a therapy session.
We will respect diversity of identities and value our differences.
We will value all questions.
We will start and end on time.
We each have the right to take a time-out from any of the exercises.
We will respect one another’s names and pronouns.
We will speak from our own experiences, using “I” statements.
We will encounter new information on gender with the spirit of “a beginner’s mind.”