By Lee Smith, NFTY-MAR Social Action Vice President 2019-2020 (they/them/theirs)
NFTY is an inclusive place. We foster a unique social environment unlike school or other teen activities that allows teens to be who they are. Our events are most effective when there are no barriers or exclusions in the execution of the event.
One of the best ways to think about this is the difference between reactive inclusion and active inclusion. Reactive inclusion is when someone points out or asks about an accommodation, and then it is made for them. Active inclusion is when the accommodation is already in place before the person even shows up to the event. The problem with reactive inclusion is that people asking for something may be “outing” their identity in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Another problem is that it can turn people off from NFTY if they are brand new and it takes a reaction from the event leaders to realize that the participant isn’t being accommodated for.
In the planning process for NFTY events, adding a layer of inclusion can often be an afterthought. It is near impossible to rearrange your entire program when you realize you created a program on a topic that might be triggering for a large percentage of the people there. For this reason, it is best when measures of inclusion are incorporated into the planning process of each event.
Inclusion is not a checklist, or a piece of legislation that doesn't guarantee implementation. Inclusion is a mindset, and is most effective when regional leaders think about planning from a human-centered point of view.
In order to help NFTY leaders incorporate inclusion into the planning process, I, along with several of my friends who contributed lots, created this video. It was created over the course of this school year, and I hope it becomes a reference for future NFTY leaders to come.