The Future of Ethical Societies (FES), the young adults of the Ethical Culture Movement, organized a wonderful conference for Memorial Day Weekend 2016 in Brooklyn, New York. Though it was our 13th conference, it was only the second one with a theme and this year’s theme of “Gender Equality & Sexuality” was very thought-provoking. We explored LGBTQ struggles, consent culture, gender identity, porn, the need for (and lack of) comprehensive sexual education, gender inequalities, and how important it is to have open, respectful conversations around such topics.
At Friday dinner with Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture members, we wrote on index cards one thing we knew about gender and/or sex that we believed everyone should know, and one thing we didn’t know about gender and/or sex that we wish we knew. These cards were included in discussions and Platform development. On Saturday, at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, we had a workshop on gender roles, how we experience gender, and how we act when faced with discrimination (see below). Kim McKay, a member of the Philadelphia Ethical Society and human sexuality studies expert, led a workshop on sexual education and consent. She introduced us to current court cases around consent and helped us examine our own views on which actions require consent.
- Evaluate Situation – How will action help?
- Be an Active Bystander – Delegate, Direct, Distract
- Empower Victims, Don’t Enable Bullies
- Open Dialogue with Others – “Why are you saying/doing that?”
- Use Clear/Common Language to Help People Understand
- Identify and Recruit Allies/Assistance
- Establish Goals and Form Achievable Steps
On Sunday, FES led the Brooklyn Society Platform. We invited guests to share a time they felt judged based on their perceived gender. For quotations, we shared definitions of important terms such as genderqueer, asexual, cisgender, and transgender. For music, we played “Girl or Boy” by Dani Shay (see video below). Our talk covered three areas: Understanding Gender, Restorative Justice, and Consent Culture. Sunday evening, we held our service project at New Alternatives, a LGBTQ homeless shelter in Manhattan, helping sort donated clothes and serve dinner. The weekend closed with a productive business meeting and plans to make 2016-17 another great FES year.