Acknowledgements & Policies
Anti-discrimination Policy 12/20/17
Notwithstanding any provision of its bylaws, the corporation, Poetry Heals, shall not discriminate against any director, officer, employee, applicant, or participant on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, race, color, ethnicity or national origin.
Reporting Responsibilities when working with minors.
Poetry Heals mentors will report to their hosting organization any comments, written or oral, made by minors that indicate the minor is in danger of harm from themselves or others. This includes mental and physical health. The director will establish with the hosting institution to whom the mentors are to report.
Poetry Heals Confidentiality/Reporting Policy to be shared with hosting groups and participants.
Poetry Heals is safe space – what happens in Poetry Heals stays in Poetry Heals. We ask that you don’t discuss anyone else’s work outside this space. We hold what you share here as confidential, with a few exceptions, such as when a mentor believes a participant is in danger of harming themselves or someone else, or when they suspect child abuse or children witnessing abuse. If a mentor has any of these concerns, we’re obligated to let someone in the hosting group know, and they’ll check in with you to make sure everything’s okay. You probably already realize this, but we just wanted to let you know.
Poetry Heals’ board of directors has accepted this policy and procedure to protect mentors and writers from any kind of harassment. To do our work, we must create safe spaces for vulnerable people, and that requires an utter absence of harassment.
Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual or gender-based behavior generally involving the exercise of formal or informal power by the perpetrator over the victim. Similarly, racial harassment is unwanted race-based behavior, and harassment based on sexual orientation is unwanted behavior based on someone’s sexual orientation, both generally involving the exercise of formal or informal power by the perpetrator over the victim. The key words are “unwanted,” “discrimination-based” and “formal or informal power,” plus the basis of the behavior in differences in gender, race, or sexual preferences.
Harassment is defined both by the feelings of the person who experiences it and by the intentions of the alleged perpetrator. What one person might consider an innocent comment or behavior could actually be experienced as harassment by another person, particularly if the alleged perpetrator persists in the behavior after the implications have been brought to his or her attention.
Mentors must absolutely refrain from touching writers in all cases. When we connect over poetry, there is sometimes a desire for a hug or to touch someone’s shoulder or hand. If the writer initiates contact, mentors can choose to accept the contact or gently refuse it. We do this because we work with vulnerable people who have had a wide range of traumas. Physical contact can be a very strong trigger and can easily be misunderstood. The occasional fist bump or handshake is fine if it is mutual and if the mentor checks with the writer to see if this contact is comfortable.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FEEL HARASSED
If you feel harassed by the comments or behavior of a person at a Poetry Heals event, and if you feel able, you can tell that person clearly that you find his/her behavior objectionable and ask him/her to stop it. Of course, there are situations in which it is difficult to confront such behavior on the spot. If someone does tell you that s/he has been offended or embarrassed by something you did, please do not argue about her/his feelings or how you intended your behavior. You cannot tell someone else how s/he should feel about something you say or do. Just apologize and be mindful so as not to repeat the objectionable behavior.
Reporting incidents of sexual harassment, racial harassment, or harassment based on sexual orientation: Poetry Heals has an executive director and a board of directors. Please report instances of harassment to the Director, Molly Wingate, or to the mentors on site if the Director is unavailable. If the Director is the problem or part of the problem, please contact the board of directors. Their names are available at poetryheals.org.
If you witness or are told about a situation involving possible harassment: Try to check it out with the person who appears to be experiencing the harassment; if s/he feels uncomfortable about the behavior, encourage her/him to confront it or report it. If it is impossible to talk with the person, or if the person is not prepared to make a report her/himself, yet you are convinced that harassment occurred, then you can report it to the Executive Director.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN RESPONSE TO A REPORTED INCIDENT OF HARASSMENT
The Director or member of the Board of Directors will meet with the offender and offended separately to determine the best path forward, which can include a mutual meeting, apology or barring the offender from Poetry Heals events. If the situration warrants it, legal advice will be sought.
Policy for Expanding the Board of Poetry Heals:
The board will expand carefully, assessing its needs and recruiting people who can contribute to the functions of the board. The by-laws will be revised as needed to accommodate additional board members. Board members are expected to contribute funds to Poetry Heals.
- Executive Committee will research the needs of the board and possible candidates
- Executive committee with meet with potential candidates
- Candidates will attend a board meeting as a visitor
- Board will vote on inviting the candidates
- Board member will make the offer to the candidates.
- Candidates will be welcomed to the board at the next meeting.
This outline assumes that all goes well at each step of the procedure. The board or the candidates can halt the procedure at any time.
Currently Brian T. Murphy is a member of the board of directors along with his wife, Molly Wingate. Wingate is also the director of Poetry Heals. Board decisions are generally unanimous, and unity is easily found. However, when it comes to matters concerning employing Wingate to direct and teach for Poetry Heals, both Wingate and Murphy must recuse themselves. (adopted 4/29/2019)