Guidelines of Interacting with Youth
Created June 17, 2005, with input from GLASS Youth Choir's director Carol Sirianni, and members, board and/or staff of San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band.
In order to help prepare you for our impending collaboration with the VISITING YOUTH CHORUS, please read this page very carefully. These guidelines will help to protect you and your respective organization from causing harm to an individual and/or to prevent the appearance of impropriety. While it's unlikely that any of you would behave inappropriately, it's better to be safe than sorry!
For the purposes of this document, "youth" refers only to members of the VISITING YOUTH CHORUS
- ALWAYS speak to youth in a manner that is respectful. Avoid conversation or actions that could be construed as being threatening, demeaning or humiliating;
- DO NOT supply alcohol or illegal drugs/substances to members of the VISITING YOUTH CHORUS, regardless of their age (this is the VISITING YOUTH CHORUS's rule);
- DO NOT engage in sexually explicit conversations with or in the vicinity of youth;
- DO NOT share sexually explicit, inappropriate or offensive materials;
- DO NOT engage in inappropriate touching, including lengthy embraces, kisses on the mouth, touching the buttocks, chest, legs or genital areas. Hand shakes and "high fives" are the best options! A quick, polite hug is acceptable, but it's a good idea to ask first (e.g. "May I give you a hug?");
- DO NOT make assumptions about a youth's gender or sexual orientation. You may wish to inquire politely how an individual would like to be addressed for the purposes of conversation (e.g. "What pronoun should I call you?" or "Should I refer to you as 'he' or 'she'?");
- DO NOT go anywhere private (e.g. bathroom, bedroom, on a trip) with a youth unless another adult is present;
- If you wish to share your own - or request a youth's - contact information (e.g. email, phone, mail), you must first SEEK PERMISSION to do so from the director of - or an adult chaperone traveling with – the VISITING YOUTH CHORUS.
If you choose to transport youth(s) in your private vehicle, you assume responsibility for any accident that may occur. The organization to which you belong will not assume any responsibility or liability.
Avoid being nude or partially nude in the presence of a youth, and avoid being in the presence of a youth who is nude or partially nude. In the situation where a dressing room must be shared, please be discreet when changing. For instance, change quickly in a corner of the room rather than walking around for ten minutes in your underwear. Stay in your designated area of the dressing room. Do not stare at someone who is changing.
If a youth initiates contact with you that is sexual in nature, (verbal or physical) put an immediate stop to it and make sure that you have someone else with you every time that you have to interact with this youth. You are the adult and consensual, sexually suggestive contact is not allowed under any circumstances. Any complaints received will be investigated immediately.
Do not share any information you may have about a youth (e.g. "he's gay" or "she's MTF"), even if the information may seem harmless to you. Remember that San Francisco is probably the most liberal city in the world, and what you may consider to be harmless may be considered harmful to others.
If you observe anyone in violation of the guidelines listed here, or if you observe any other behaviors that may be considered questionable, please report the incident immediately to the leadership of your organization (e.g. board member, artistic director, executive director). This will help to protect everyone involved.
ADULT OR MINOR?
Although some singers in the VISITING YOU CHORUS may be legal adults, they are still bound by these rules.
Basically, treat these youth as if they were a relative (e.g. niece, nephew). Ask yourself: "Is this something I would say to my sister's kids?" Being aware of your actions will help to keep you from doing or saying something inappropriate. Think ahead. Think before you speak. Think before you act.
Thank you for your cooperation.