Anti-harassment, Anti-abuse, and Anti-discrimination Town Hall
The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), Junior Roller Derby Association (JRDA) and Men’s Roller Derby Association (MRDA) held a public town hall webinar to share updates on interorganizational efforts to address anti-harassment, anti-abuse, and anti-discrimination in the roller derby community.
Each of the three organizations was rightfully called in for failing to address issues of abuse, harassment and discrimination. The town hall speaks to how abuse, harassment, and discrimination are not issues unique to one organization, one age group, one gender, or one type of roller derby participant.
We received a huge volume of questions and comments from the roller derby community at large leading up to the town hall. There was a call for assistance and resources on a wide number of related issues, such as learning to identify abuse, harassment, and discrimination, as well as requests for examples of policies that can be adopted on a local level. Survivors of abuse, harassment, and discrimination recounted their painful stories. Most of all, the community rightfully questioned how WFTDA, JRDA, and MRDA will hold individuals and leagues accountable.
Each organization spoke to how they are developing ways to work together as leaders in the sport to keep abusers out of the roller derby community and to create a better system of incident reporting. The WFTDA, JRDA, and MRDA are working on strengthening codes of conduct and policy to identify abusers and collaborate on reviewing grievances.
“There is a systemic problem with designing policies with only the majority of members in mind. This is because those in the minority are basically left to struggle through policies and processes that are inherently unsupportive and oftentimes hurtful, especially to people in marginalized groups,” says Vice President F-Bomb. She continues, “We heard this message loud and clear from victims and survivors of abuse, harassment, and discrimination in the derby community. Governing bodies and local derby leagues must begin to center policy development and implementation on the very real experiences of marginalized groups in roller derby. Otherwise it’s just a facade of allyship — and we really aren’t protecting anyone.”
One of the most impactful revelations of the town hall was from JRDA, who stated that many junior roller derby participants feel unsure about moving on to WFTDA or MRDA to play roller derby, as these adult organizations currently have fewer policies and protections in place regarding abuse and harassment. Many kids who love playing roller derby in JRDA chose not to continue into WFTDA or MRDA, as a result. That’s heartbreaking, and we have to do better.
MRDA announced the formation of an Inclusivity Committee and the creation of a Human Resources position to better support member leagues. WFTDA will begin building accessible online education content and training materials regarding anti-harassment, anti-abuse, and anti-discrimination in addition to proposing important changes to bylaws, membership requirements, and code of conduct policy. JRDA also announced the newly-signed Memorandum of Understanding with WFTDA. This formal partnership emphasizes key collaborations such as code of conduct development and anti-bullying initiatives.
These are only a few initial steps we are taking as a community to begin dismantling outdated and hurtful policies and procedures. Next month, a town hall for WFTDA members will be presented by the WFTDA Advocacy Committee on the topic of racism and marginalization. More town halls and webinars are planned for later in 2018, including the specific topic of anti-bullying.
Watch Webinar Recording: