Heroes Con Publishes Explicit Anti-Harassment Policy And Reporting Guidelines
This weekend marks the 22nd annual Heroes Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, one of the best-regarded pure comic cons and the convention that was my hometown con for many years. In my experience, Heroes has never published a public anti-harassment policy, but that seems to have changed for the better this year, as organizer Shelton Drum issued a policy this year in the form of a personal letter to attendees. The move makes Heroes Con just the latest comics convention to publicly address the pervasive problem of harassment -- both sexual and otherwise -- that takes place at these kinds of events.
Here's the letter, in full:
HeroesCon is dedicated to providing a fun, safe and harassment-free convention experience for everyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age or religion. We will not tolerate harassment of anyone in any form. Convention participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from HeroesCon without a refund at the discretion of the convention organizers.
Exhibitors, sponsors and guests are subject to our anti-harassment policy as well and in particular, exhibitors should not use images or material that surpasses a PG-13 rating at their booths. Booth staff (including volunteers) should not use over-sexualized or excessively gory clothing/uniforms/costumes.
If you are being harassed, witness someone else being harassed or have any other concerns, please contact a member of the HeroesCon staff or a volunteer. We are happy to contact our security or local law enforcement, provide escort, a safe place or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the convention.
All attendees, exhibitors and staff are subject to this anti-harassment policy and are expected to follow these rules at all HeroesCon events.
This policy goes for the show floor and after-hours events at our host hotels as well.
Heroes Con's policy is somewhat similar to the policy that Comic-Con International in San Diego has put in place, in that in generally asks attendees who feel they are being harassed to report incidents to volunteers and staffers rather than prescribing a more defined mechanism for reporting. However, Heroes Con's policy does lay out some firm rules for what constitutes inappropriate behavior, notes that the policy includes the show floor and convention hotels, and prohibits "harassment of any kind" under threat of expulsion without refund. Comic-Con's policy appeals to a more general "common sense" approach.
Drum's letter also doesn't say what sort of training volunteers and staffers are receiving in regard to handling harassment reports, which is something critics of Comic-Con's policy have requested.
That said, Heroes Con's policy seems to be considerably more public than Comic-Con's. While Comic-Con's policy is in the 200-page programming guide and on its website, Heroes Con's can be found at the top of its blog the week of the convention. Hopefully it will be posted around the show floor much like Emerald City Comicon's anti-harassment flyers were.
At the very least, this move on Heroes Con's part seems to be an indicator that more convention organizers are at the very least trying to address what has long been a huge problem at these events, and that has recently become a topic for widespread discussion and debate. That's progress.