Guidelines for Healthy Dialogue

Free Minds, Free People promotes and supports spaces where honest and respectful language is used. We recognize and value that everyone comes from different places, backgrounds, and experiences, and we seek to create an environment where people treat each other respectfully and where we can hold each other accountable.

We are asking conference participants to abstain from the use of language (verbal, written and body) and practices that reinforce adultism, racism, sexism, heterosex­ism, and ableism, among others.

In an effort to provide space where everyone can have an equal voice, we are asking peo­ple to be aware of their privilege (e.g. being white, male, without a disability, straight, an adult, holding an advanced degree, etc.). We discourage anyone from dominating meeting space, large group discussions or small group conversations.

Here are some guidelines for creating a positive community space:

  • Our time together is precious. WAIT (Why Am I Talking?). Because we have limited time available, we want to make sure that as many people as possible can participate. Please make sure your comments and questions are concise and ad­dress the issue at hand.
  • In this space, we are all teachers and learners. Everyone can learn from one another as well as bring their experience to the community.
  • Step up, step back. In order to support everyone’s participation, if you are usually a talkative person, be mindful of others and step back a bit. If you are usually quiet, we encourage you to step up a bit and be more vocal.
  • Keep an open mind. Be prepared to listen to others, even if you do not agree with them. And be prepared to have your views challenged by others.
  • Challenge people respectfully. Please focus your comments on the idea, not the person expressing it. Remember, we all make mistakes. Making mistakes is part of the learning process.
  • Be aware of power and voice in the room. Be mindful of your privilege and step back when appropriate.
  • Help ensure this is a safe and respectful space for all. Everyone should feel comfortable here, which means all of us must be mindful of avoiding sexually inappropriate behavior or language. Adults should not, under any circumstances, flirt or use sexually suggestive language with youth. Amongst adults or youth, please remember no means no. We encourage people to speak up if they are the recipient of unwanted advances or witness such activity.
  • Please turn off cell phones or put them on vibrate.

These guidelines are a combination of meeting space guidelines developed by Project South, Teachers 4 Social Justice, the Chicago Freedom School, and Free Minds, Free People.