[Tall-Corn] FW: [Nfbnet-members-list] We stand in solidarity with victims and survivors

Elizabeth Rouse elizabethrouse.nfb at gmail.com
Sun Dec 13 04:37:55 UTC 2020

I want to start by thanking you for sharing your story. Telling people
about our experiences with trauma is not easy, and I am proud of you for
standing up for your self. You deserve nothing short of the utmost respect,
and I’m sorry that you did not feel the respect you deserve while in the
Iowa affiliate.
I hope that your message serves as an open door for other survivors to
express themselves in whatever way they feel comfortable. As someone who
has also undergone the Code of Conduct process and been crushingly
disappointed with its results, I know we each have to come to terms with
both the trauma of an incident and the resulting fallout that that trauma
Please know that I am always here to support you and anyone else who feels
as if their voice has been silenced intentionally or inadvertently. It is
my deepest hope that our state affiliate and the Federation as a whole will
join me in this sentiment both in written word and in physical action.
This time has been given to us to listen to and respect one another.
Ideally, the opportunity will also give us a chance to heal both
individually and together.
Always your unwavering supporter,

On Sat, Dec 12, 2020 at 9:43 PM Kathryn Olsen via Tall-Corn <
tall-corn at nfbnet.org> wrote:

> Actions speak louder than words. The previous email seems very
> disingenuous to me. To say this is an important issue is an understatement.
> To say you support a cause because it is popular is not enough. It is time
> for us to take personal responsibility for our actions and to protect the
> people who we consider our “NFB family”. I must say that the NFBI
> leadership has failed me. It hasn’t just been once, but numerous times in
> the past two years.
> As many of you may know, I filed a code of conduct complaint against an
> NFBI member in 2018. My case was handled in a horrific manner and ended up
> leaving me more traumatized then before. Leaders questioned the validity of
> my claims and breached my confidentiality. I was told to stay silent. The
> consequences for the person accused were almost laughable.
> The next summer, I was sexually harassed by an IDB employee and NFBI
> leader and reported it through all the appropriate channels. In addition to
> this, I also informed the affiliate president of the incident, explaining
> how I thought it would be crucial to monitor this individual and his
> interactions with others in the organization. I did this because I didn’t
> want anyone else to have to feel the way I did. No one should have to go
> through that. At state convention that fall, it was extremely disheartening
> to find out that this individual had been slated as the first vice
> president of our affiliate. It was at this point that I realized this
> affiliate wasn’t a safe place for me anymore and I was silenced, yet again.
> After a series of conversations after this election, I made the decision to
> resign from my position as second vice president of the affiliate. This was
> an incredibly tough decision. Not only was I giving up my voice on the
> affiliate board, but I also felt like I was giving up power and the
> perpetrator was protected, yet again.
> Since resigning last year, I have felt like an outsider in an organization
> that was once filled with mentors and people who poured into me as a young
> and up-and-coming leader.  I was left out of conversations and even had
> leaders make hurtful comments about my resignation to the board. Thus far,
> NFBI leadership has not only ignored this issue, they have protected
> perpetrators at the expense of victims. Either leadership must show a true
> commitment to protecting its members or we need new leadership.
> Sincerely,
> Katy
> On Sat, Dec 12, 2020 at 2:45 PM Scott Van Gorp <svangorp at nfbi.org> wrote:
>> Good Afternoon Federation Family:
>> You may get this more than once, and for that I apologize, but the below
>> information needs to be circulated so that everyone receives it. I’m not
>> going to add too much more than what is here, except for the following. The
>> below policy statement is coming from our national organizational
>> leadership and applies to us all. The National Federation of the Blind of
>> Iowa stands with our national organization in solidarity with victims and
>> survivors as outlined below. Our code of conduct is clear, and it has also
>> been updated to reflect clearer language in several sections that may apply
>> here and elsewhere. I strongly encourage everyone to review the code of
>> conduct on the website and I urge you, if there are any questions, please
>> feel free to reach out to leadership at all levels and we will do our best
>> to address them. I have been following various threads and posts
>> surrounding this topic, and while this is not an issue unique to the
>> blindness community, it has gained the attention of a number of entities in
>> various circles, and that is why we as an organization and as individuals
>> need to come together to stand with those affected and speak out on behalf
>> of those who may not be able to for a number of reasons. Please read the
>> below email in its entirety, and again, please reach out if there are any
>> questions!
>> Scott Van Gorp, President
>> National Federation of the Blind of Iowa
>> Phone: 515-720-5282
>> Email <svangorp at nfbi.org>
>> *Website* <http://www.nfbi.org/>
>> *Facebook*
>> <https://www.facebook.com/National-Federation-Of-the-Blind-Of-Iowa-372681823082570/posts>
>> *Twitter* <https://twitter.com/nfb_iowa>
>> * Live the life you want.*
>> The National Federation of the Blind of Iowa is a community of members
>> and friends who believe in the hopes and dreams of the nation’s blind.
>> Every day we work together to help blind people live the lives they want.
>> *From:* NFBNet-Members-List <nfbnet-members-list-bounces at nfbnet.org> *On
>> Behalf Of *National Federation of the Blind via NFBNet-Members-List
>> *Sent:* Friday, December 11, 2020 3:59 PM
>> *Subject:* [Nfbnet-members-list] We stand in solidarity with victims and
>> survivors
>> [image: []]
>> [image: National Federation of the Blind logo and tagline live the life]
>> <http://nfb.htm>
>> The National Federation of the Blind Stands in Solidarity with Victims
>> and Survivors
>> Content warning: the following statement addresses sensitive topics
>> regarding sexual misconduct and violence.
>> In light of recent discussions taking place in the blindness community,
>> the National Federation of the Blind offers this statement expressing our
>> unwavering commitment to supporting blind people and others in our
>> community while emphasizing the importance of our NFB Code of Conduct. As
>> the leading civil rights organization of the blind in the United States,
>> every day we work to bring equality, love, and hope to our community. The
>> blind community, like the rest of society, is not immune to violence and
>> sexual misconduct, and we deeply regret and express our sincerest empathy
>> for any blind person who has suffered pain and hardship frominstances of
>> abuse and violence.
>> The National Federation of the Blind and our affiliated training
>> centers­the Louisiana Center for the Blind, Colorado Center for the Blind,
>> and BLIND, Inc. ­strongly condemn sexual violence and sexual misconduct of
>> any kind. We stand in solidarity with victims and survivors. Additionally,
>> we acknowledge how difficult it is for many to come forward, and we
>> continue to seek avenues for victims and survivors to be heard. As the
>> collective voice of the nation’s blind, we are committed to and welcome an
>> ongoing process of learning how to heal from past trauma, to prevent future
>> instances, and to protect victims and survivors. In undertakingthis
>> priority we rely on learning, both through internal discussion among
>> members with lived experiences as well as through consultation with outside
>> experts, to strengthen and improve our policies and practices and to
>> support victims and survivors. To that end, we continually encourage
>> comment and seek input on these issues.
>> The National Federation of the Blind works hard to create a welcoming and
>> safe environment for our members and the public. For several years now,
>> Federation leadership has endeavored to understand how to appropriately
>> handle the difficult topics of sexual misconduct and other forms of abuse
>> within our organizational structure. It has long been the policy of the
>> Federation to, at the very minimum, prohibit sexual misconduct of any kind
>> at our events or in our programs and create the most inclusive, welcoming,
>> and safe environment to conduct our business. In an effort to address our
>> sexual misconduct policy as well as other important issues, in2018 we
>> determined more was needed and we created an additional written code of
>> conduct and grievance process to ensure that consistent and assertive
>> actions were taken. The written code is only one aspect of committing more
>> organizational resources to the ongoing effort to improve our Federation.
>> As part of our normal practice, we report instances of sexual abuse and
>> misconduct to law enforcement when necessary and required, support victims
>> in filing reports when needed, report our findings to relevant certifying
>> entities when appropriate, and remove members and employees from the
>> organization when warranted. We take all steps necessary to maintain
>> confidentiality and we do not tolerate retaliation of any kind. Our code of
>> conduct isroutinely reviewed and continues to evolve as we learn and grow
>> in these efforts. Furthermore, we continue to implement programs to support
>> this work throughout our organization. Nevertheless, we know there is more
>> work to be done, and it is a priority for our organization to be a safe
>> space.
>> If you feel unsafe, under imminent threat, or in immediate danger, you
>> should contact law enforcement or other appropriate authorities. This is
>> also a reminder to our members to report violations of our code, especially
>> those involving sexual misconduct or any form of abuse, as soon as you are
>> able, and a reminder that concerns can be raised anonymously. Comments
>> about our policies and practices, or concerns and reports alleging
>> violations of the code, can be recorded verbally at 410-659-9314, extension
>> 2475, or sent via email to code at nfb.org
>> <https://www.nfb.org/libraries/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=19380&qid=4667017>.
>> Together with love, hope, and determination, we will continue building the
>> Federation to be the most inclusive, safe, and welcoming place where we
>> support one another and carry out our important, life-changing work. Our
>> full NFB Code of Conduct can be found at
>> https://www.nfb.org/about-us/history-and-governance/code-conduct
>> <https://www.nfb.org/libraries/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=19381&qid=4667017>
>> .
>> This statement is also available on our website:
>> https://www.nfb.org/about-us/press-room/national-federation-blind-stands-solidarity-victims-and-survivors
>> <https://www.nfb.org/libraries/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=19390&qid=4667017>
>> .
>> [image: Facebook Logo]
>> <https://www.nfb.org/libraries/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=19382&qid=4667017>
>> <https://www.nfb.org/libraries/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=19382&qid=4667017>
>> [image: Twitter Logo]
>> <https://www.nfb.org/libraries/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=19383&qid=4667017>
>> [image: Instagram Logo]
>> <https://www.nfb.org/libraries/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=19384&qid=4667017>
>> [image: YouTube Logo]
>> <https://www.nfb.org/libraries/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=19385&qid=4667017>
>> [image: Email Icon Image]
>> <https://www.nfb.org/libraries/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=19386&qid=4667017>
>> [image: Donate to the NFB Icon.]
>> <https://www.nfb.org/libraries/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=19387&qid=4667017>
>> National Federation of the Blind | 200 E Wells Street | Baltimore, MD
>> 21230
>> <https://www.google.com/maps/search/200+E+Wells+Street+%7C+Baltimore,+MD+21230?entry=gmail&source=g>
>> | 410-659-9314
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>> ..
> --
> Katy Olsen
> President | Iowa Association of Blind Students
> Vice President | National Federation of the Blind of Iowa
> 515.783.4522 | president.iabs at gmail.com
> _______________________________________________
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Elizabeth Rouse
President | Iowa Association of Blind Students
Co-Chair | NABS Outreach Committee
Treasurer | National Association of Blind Students
A proud division of the National Federation of the Blind
elizabethrouse.nfb at gmail.com
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