On the ShanniiWrites Forums, it is very important for us to make sure that everyone is being treated fairly and equally at all times. It is our top priority to create a place where people of all walks of life feel safe and comfortable when they chat on our threads. So, it is essential that we protect certain groups of people from hate speech, bullying and general threats to their welfare. In order to do this properly, we have outlined the groups that we consider to be protected by our bigotry and hate speech rules.

Of course, we also value open and constructive conversations among our members. This is our second most important priority. So, we naturally have a balance to strike. We need to make sure that we protect the speech and welfare of vulnerable groups of people whilst also ensuring that people outside of these groups feel free to share their opinions – within reason, of course.

Below is a list of the groups that are protected by the ShanniiWrites Forums hate speech and bigotry rules. We have also included a list of groups that do not fall into this status. Please refer to this document if you have any questions.

We reserve the right to update this list at any time. For the sake of fairness and transparency, we will inform you on the Forums if there are any major changes made to this doc. Please make sure that you stay up to date with all of the changes and stick to the rules at all times.

The Protected Groups #

Under the ShanniiWrites Forums rules, you must not alienate, segregate, criticise, attack, mock, ridicule or discriminate against people for any of the following things:

  • Race, ethnicity or nationality.
  • Skin colour.
  • Religion, language or cultural identity.
  • Disabilities (either visible or invisible; mental or physical).
  • Mental health issues (including eating disorders).
  • Neurodivergence (e.g. dyslexia or autism).
  • Sexuality, or lack thereof.
  • Sex, gender or gender identity.
  • The stage of a person’s transition.
  • Pronouns.
  • Social status.
  • Body type (weight, height, etc).
  • Past trauma.
  • Age.

While we have tried to include every protected group, we may have missed some. Therefore, if in doubt, simply do not criticise, mock or ridicule someone for something that they cannot control. This includes their gender identity and sexuality. We will not debate with anyone over whether either of these things is a choice, regardless of your personal beliefs. You do not need to agree with us to treat other people with respect.

Groups Not Covered By These Rules #

There may also occasionally be some confusion over groups that we have not included in this list. For the sake of clarity, the following is a list of groups that we do not consider to be protected by hate speech and bigotry rules:

  • Political opinions.
  • Belief in conspiracy theories or provable false claims (including anti-vax, QAnon and flat earth).
  • Bigoted views. Homophobia and transphobia will not be tolerated, regardless of your religion.
  • Artistic endeavours. People are always free to critique art on the Forums.

People in these groups are welcome to post on the Forums. However, they do not gain special protected status if their beliefs come under scrutiny by other members of the community. We believe that constructive criticism, disagreement and debate are important. So, do not post your opinions in a public area if you are unable to tolerate disagreement and criticism. People are more than welcome to criticise your ideas and words.

We will also not step in if other members of the Forums do not want to associate with you because you belong to any of these non-protected groups. They are welcome to choose their friends and company as they wish. However, this does not mean that they can stop you from using the Forums to the fullest. If you are allowed on a section of the Forums, no one can force you out of it by telling you to leave, telling you to shut up or harassing you. This breaks other rules.

Please make sure that you follow all of the rules at all times.

Issues Not Covered By These Rules #

We understand that some other rules may seem to contradict these protected groups in some ways. These cases are very specific and deserve clarification.

Unless otherwise specified by one of the Heads or Shannii, these are the only exceptions to the rules about protected groups.

Religious Beliefs That Discriminate Against Other Protected Groups #

We are aware that religion is on the list of protected groups on the Forums. However, this does not give you the right to discriminate against other protected groups on the grounds that you are following your religion. Regardless of your religious beliefs, we expect you to be fair and civil to all of our members. You do not need to be friends with other members, but you must not harm or discriminate against them in any way. This includes saying or implying that they are going to hell, they are sinners, God hates them, or any other bigoted views.

You must not force your religious beliefs on other people. If you are an atheist, you also must not force atheism onto other people. You are free to be a member of any religion that you choose. You are also welcome to start threads to discuss your religion, educate people or meet other minded individuals. However, if any of your religious beliefs break the rules of the Forums, keep those specific beliefs to yourself. They are not welcome either in the Forums or in personal messages.

Age-Specific Categories of the Forums #

Entry into areas of the Forums depends heavily on your age. You must be at least 13 years old to enter the general area of the Forums and at least 18 to enter the Restricted Section. No one under the age of 13 will be allowed to use the Forums and no one under the age of 18 should be exposed to adult content.

These rules do not constitute age discrimination on the Forums. They are rules put in place to protect the health and safety of our users, and therefore you must stick to them.

However, no one should be made to feel bad because they cannot join in on the age-restricted areas of the Forums. Please treat all of our users with respect and dignity, regardless of their age.

We also understand that you may make jokes about your friends being older or younger than you. Age jokes are acceptable, as long as everyone is laughing. If the person you are joking about is uncomfortable and expresses that to you, you must stop immediately. If you do not, this will be counted as bullying and/or harassment.

Discussing and Critiquing the Actions and Words of People #

Occasionally, a religious or activist group may do something that you disagree with. When this happens, it is perfectly acceptable to comment on the actions of this group, regardless of whether or not they include people who belong to protected minorities. However, you must approach the subject with fairness and sensitivity.

If you are discussing the words and actions of a group of people, please follow these rules:

  • Never generalise. Just because the people involved may include members of protected groups, that does not mean that all people of that group are to blame.
  • Be specific. Name the people involved. Use the correct names for the organisations. For example, if you are talking about the actions of the Catholic Church or the papacy, use those terms. Never say “catholics” in general.
  • Never blame their actions or words on them being a member of that protected group. Yes, the fact that they are part of this group may impact their decisions. However, this does not mean all members of that group are the same.
  • Respect the facts. We do not allow the spread of misinformation or disinformation on the ShanniiWrites Forums. So, please make sure that you present the facts as best you can and be open to change if you are presented with new information.
  • If in doubt, stick to the actions or the words rather than the group. People from all groups can do bad things. That’s why it is often a safe bet to focus on what the people did wrong rather than their status as part of a protected group.

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