May 17 is recognized as International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia across the globe. The Fedora Diversity team organized an online event (video call) to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity in Fedora for the first time on May 17, 2017. The event was to raise awareness of existing violence and discrimination of LGBTQA communities worldwide, which in turn provides an opportunity to take actions and engage in dialogues within the Fedora community.
40% of world population is from LGBTQA and they have to live under constant fear of crime. Research on wiki reports that between 2008 and 2014, more than 1000 trans people were killed. Sexual and gender minorities face attacks, criticism and their human rights are being denied on daily basis. One in six LGBTQA people faces criminal attacks and incidents do not get reported. What broke my heart the most is that sometimes these people have to change their behavior while in public so that they can save themselves from the hate.
These facts make it very important to transparently and visibly show that Fedora is a diverse and inclusive community. So that, THIS message can reach everyone including people who have to live in a constant state of fear. Fedora does not support any kind of discrimination and welcomes everyone regardless of gender, culture, belief, sexual orientation and religion.
We had Adam Williamson (Fedora contributor) on the call, who helped us understand the topic in more deeper context. We had Brian Exelbierd on the call, whose presence helped us know more about where we are currently in Fedora in terms of Code of Conduct and policies and what is the scope of accommodating several discussed improvement factors during the discussion. Dolores Portalatin (an artist, programmer, social activist), Rhea (a fedora contributor and a bisexual person) and Sumantro (a fedora contributor) , also shared their thoughts on the topic. Many other people joined and helped us making the event successful. I am very thankful to all of them as they participated with time, energy, and activism in event call.
As it was a short call of 1 hour and the aim is to identify actions and providing an open forum to drill down the issues. We had chosen critical items only for the agenda of the call and topics involved majorly:
- Awareness of any existing problems
- How to improve and become more inclusive
- Understanding the challenges
- Future initiatives or directions
Iit makes me feel great that the take away was quite impressive.
Here are the major highlights:
1. Behavior and Moderation – We all are from different culture and carry different background with us. A small question or even an compliment in your opinion may be correct, but may not be appropriate for others. Before giving comments and also compliments, we always need to be more aware that this should not offend someone. Asking someone’s gender publicly or making raciest jokes is not appropriate. There are IRC user guidelines already present in Fedora wiki and also IRC operator guidelines, but they are not very well known. It will be good and helpful to spread awareness about their existence. Greater visibility of our processes and guidelines will surely help.
2. Code of Conduct Expansion – One of the major point of the discussion was code of conduct in Fedora. Our present code of conduct is concise and to the point. There is an opportunity for expanding the CoC. Diversity team has done ground work to offer ideas for expanding our CoC is being considered by the Fedora Council now. In particular we believe that explicitly mentioning diversity &inclusion and the LGBTQA community will both make Fedora’s efforts more visible and provide documented reassurance to members of the community that we understand.
3. Polices and Guidelines – Creation and existence of policies and guidelines specifically for LGBTQA individuals can demonstrate our free and open culture in Fedora community and make it more transparent. It also help contributors to understand the action plan created in case of policy violation. People feel more safe and under less risk when such polices and guidelines are crafted carefully.
4. Reporting Issues and Awareness – It was noted on the call that there is no documented method of reporting incidents. bex shared that one can open private council ticket for reporting issues, which is good. But, people feel more secure while there is a one to one communication channel provided in such scenarios for privacy and to feel more confident while sharing sensitive data and information. Therefore bex is also going to suggest that specific people be identified when the council updates the CoC to include reporting information. While we build solutions in this area, we need to make sure that we spread awareness about it. So that people can use it, when in need.
5. Tooling – Other than above points, there is the need for accommodations to help a range of contributors, for example by providing subtitles for videos, transcriptions for video calls, etc. For LGBTQA people, there may need to be additional conversations around room sharing options when traveling on Fedora travel budgets. People may not open up or feel comfortable sharing their gender identity publicly on the registration form too, so giving a contact person’s email ID may help in such cases.
Events like this make our perspective more clear. I am privileged and honored to be part of such a diverse community. I am sure the experience was inspiring for everyone who has joined and we crafted a good line of action items for us as diversity team.
Love Fedora hate homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia