Bisexuals Decide at BiCon 2011

What did the key plenary of BiCon Leicester 2011 decide?  Find out here…

BiCon 2011 Decision Making Plenary
3rd September 2011, Leicester

1.  Welcome and Introduction
The Chair – Sharon, Chair’s Aide – David and Minute Taker – Sanji, were introduced and attendees to the Decision Making Plenary (DMP) welcomed.

2.  Previous Minutes
Minutes from 2010 were approved with no changes.  Minutes from previous BiCons can be found here: resources.bi.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page#BiCon

3.  Proposed Guideline Changes
All Guideline changes must be approved by two consecutive years’ DMPs.  In 2010 the following Guideline change was approved:
Remove the final sentence from guideline B5 and remove the footnote number 8. The footnote to be removed reads: “The BiCon team should make use of the BiCon special needs data bank.”  The whole of that guideline is: “BiCon literature should give a clear description of the level of disabled access available and provision for people with disabilities should be a major consideration”.

VOTE:      For – many
Against – 0
Abstained – 2
This Guideline change is now in effect having been approved by two consecutive DMPs.

4.  New Guideline Change –  B3
The following change was proposed to make guideline B3 read:
“BiCon should have published policies which include anti-harassment, anti-discrimination and confidentiality.  People who consistently or seriously breach these policies – for example by harassing others for any reason including sexually, racially, or on the grounds of sexuality, or by breaching another attendee’s confidentiality – should be required to leave and may be banned from future BiCons.”
It was clarified that all guidelines are superseded by UK law and therefore are in addition to any UK laws on equality, harassment, discrimination and confidentiality.

VOTE:      For – many        Against – 0             Abstained – 2
This will need to be approved at the 2012 BiCon DMP in order to take effect.

5.  Reports back from previous DMPs at BiCon
a)  Bi Cymru
Bi Cymru ran another successful BiFest and once again, did not need to use the money from BiCon as other funding was sourced.  Therefore, the money is still in BiCon funds.  Thanks to Ele for her work.

6.  Proposed Future BiCons
a)  2012 – The 2012 BiCon team will be headed by Sonin and Libby.  It will take place in Bradford from 9th -13th August.  The team confirmed that there will be some accommodation available with double beds.

b) 2013 – Katie, Jess and Josy proposed to run BiCon 2013 in Scotland. Their proposal was approved after a discussion regarding their level of experience and with offers of support.
VOTE:      For – many        Against – 0
Abstained – 3

7.  Bi Companies Update
The formation of Bi Companies had been debated since 1997 and agreed at 2009.

Recent changes to company law and charity regulations led to necessary delays to investigate legal and financial issues.  It was confirmed that Bi Companies would be formed as a Company Limited by Guarantee, which will gain charitable status – rather than as a Charitable Company.  It will still be able to obtain grant funding and have a charitable status even as a Company Limited by Guarantee.  K was given thanks for her hard work. The initial directors will be Elizabeth, Ian, Grant, Natalya, Karen, Hessie, Sharon and Ed.

8.  Requests for Funding
a) Race training
A proposal was put forward to request £500 grant money from BiCon to support Race Awareness and Problem Solving Training.   The funding was requested to cover return travel and accommodation costs from Scotland to Leicester in order to carry out the training.

The training was identified at the 2011 Bi Activism Weekend as necessary for bisexual activists to start the process of making bi spaces more welcoming and safer for people of colour (PoC).  The training will take place at the November 2011 Bi Activism Weekend in Leicester.  The trainers identified are bisexual, people of colour who work in equality and diversity and deliver training.   They are also seeking funding from their employer to support the training session in order to reduce the cost to the bi community.

The aims of the race training session will be:
1) Work out what the problems are
2) Identify solutions to some or all of our problems
3) Identify and make plans for how to start solving our problems

A group of active members of the bi community offered to personally match any funding offered by BiCon pound for pound in order to ensure the training occurs.

Please note: all are welcome to attend the training and further information on the Bi Activism Weekends can be found here: groups.yahoo.com/group/uk-bi-activism
It was agreed that a report on the training would be fed back at the 2012 BiCon DMP.

Questions and comments were raised by attendees:
Q1: Would the money be used to market BiCon to make it more attractive to People of Colour?  If we are good at being welcoming, but PoC don’t know we exist, then the training won’t have impact.
A:  – The money will be used to initially identify what the problems are and then to work on fixing them.  It will be a slow change process but part of that will be looking at issues of communication during the problem solving process.  If the communication issues are identified first, there is a greater chance of solutions being effective.  Attendees do not have to wait or rely on the training to communicate about BiCon to people of colour.
– The advertising/communication about BiCon issue was raised at the pre-DMP and agreed that it was an issue for each BiCon team to organise and not a BiCon guidelines issue. Please feel free to raise marketing issues with future BiCon teams.
– The training will take more than a year to have an impact.  The training will be used to upskill volunteers who may then run more events.  Local events have had more success at attracting a BME community.

Q2: How was the training organisation selected?  Have other training organisations been approached or was this one pre-selected?
A: One of the trainers explained their experience and expertise and offered to give details of the training and methodology if wanted.  They offered to not run the training if the bi community wished to go with another trainer.

Q3:  Would training be focusing on event participants, not just organisational structure and processes?
A:  – Research shows that training is most effective when it occurs at the top and then filters down.
–  Following the race training, individuals may wish to run workshops such as “white allies” to address participant training needs.

Q4:  What was the presence at Black Pride?
A:  Approximately 3 bi activists attended and ran a stall. One was a person of colour.

Q5:  What would the £500 be used for if not allocated for race training?
A: The £500 would be used to support future BiCons and sit within the surplus funds and possibly sit within Bi Companies.

Q6: Which future BiCon’s surplus funds would the £500 be taken from?
A: It would be split equally between 2012 and 2013.

VOTE:      For – many        Against – 0             Abstained – 1

b) Seed funding for Oxford BiFest
A request for a loan of £300 was made in order to run Oxford BiFest 2012 by Alex.  Alex was a member of the 2010 Oxford BiFest team and ran a last minute Bi Meet when BiCon 2011 was cancelled at short notice.

Questions and comments were raised by attendees:
Q1: Will the £300 be given back to BiCon if Oxford BiFest makes a profit?
A:   – Alex clarified that any loan from BiCon to Oxford BiFest would be repaid back to BiCon if a surplus was made.  Additionally that if wanted, any surplus would be re-invested into an Oxford BiFest or other bi focused event.
– It was suggested that Oxford BiFest be given a grant, not a loan.  This received a positive response from attendees.  It was agreed that the vote would take place regarding a grant of £300 for Oxford BiFest, not a loan.

Q2:  What happened with the 2010 and 2011 monies? What happens if monies come back from 2010?
A:  – Attendees were reminded that 2010 and 2011 did not receive any BiCon funding and therefore would have no requirement to report back to or repay any money to BiCon.

Q3:  Running a BiFest is a significant task.  Therefore, what personnel support did Alex have in place other than himself?
A:   – People from the community have already begun to volunteer to help.  Based on previous experiences, more help would be forthcoming.
– Much of the work regarding the venue and use of previous mailing and marketing materials was already in place.
– Other members of the bi community spoke in favour of Alex and his skills.

VOTE:      For – many        Against – 0             Abstained – 4

9.  Any Other Business
a) Kay Dekker Memorial – An online community to remember Kay Dekker (a longstanding, influential member of the bi community who died in 2011) has been set up.  It can be found on Livejournal under the community name of “remembering_kay”.  All were welcomed to contribute to the Livejournal community.

b) Equality Fund – although not a guideline change, a suggestion was put forward to the DMP that the Equality Funds part of BiCon funding be separated from the main BiCon team.  Reasons given were:
    to keep money and data separate from the BiCon money and data
    better and fairer targeting of support to attendees
It was proposed that the Equality Team could have a rolling committee for continuity but would not consist of that year’s BiCon team members.
An email address will be published at a later date for all requests, comments, thoughts and questions to be directed to.

c) Confidentiality and the Press – currently, members of the Press are asked to identify themselves at BiCon as part of the Code of Conduct that all attendees must sign.  It was suggested that this be extended explicitly to members of the police and security forces (eg, MI5).  It was hoped that this would put additional pressure on press, police and security forces to maintain a professional conduct whilst at BiCon.

Questions and comments were raised by attendees:
Q: How are press currently identified?
A:   – They are identifiable by their badges.
– This identification should occur in all BiCon spaces (eg social areas) not just in workshops.
– Identification should be extremely clear to other attendees.  Suggestions of this ranged from different coloured badges to hi-vis vests.

Q:  If the confidentiality and identification issues were extended to the police and security services, what legal comeback would BiCon/individuals have if they were not to abide by the Code of Conduct?
A:  – No clear response on this was given.  However, it was explained that it would re-emphasise to press, police and security forces attendees that they would be expected to behave professionally, even when off-duty.
– There were concerns that this restriction of access would encourage the impression that BiCon/attendees have something to hide.
– For some attendees, it is important that some information is not disclosed to the police or security services.  This particularly so for some attendees regarding trans and immigration issues.

10.  Thanks
Thanks were given to the Chair, Chair’s Aide and Minute Taker.