August 28, 2021 “Only” Meetings Town Hall Meeting Summary

Statement of Purpose for Town Hall Meeting #2

What is an “only” meeting?

Traditionally, it meant same gender groups.  (Men Only or Women Only)

Today, people are looking at creating meetings from sexual orientation, race, culture and many other perspectives.

Session 2:  What in Adult Children of Alcoholics & Dysfunctional Families’ “culture” and “environment” is relevant to this discussion?

What would be consistent with:

  • the Twelve Steps, Traditions, and Concepts?
  • our principles, policies, the Solution?
  • Does our literature provide any guidance about this issue?

General Summary

Many of the sentiments in this town hall were similar to the first, and went on to add some new dynamics that are important to any final resolution.

Common sentiments were that focus-specific meetings are acceptable and are often a practical way to create safe space for people who have suffered similar traumas, such as abuse due to skin color, or sexual abuse.  Although it was noted that in areas that do not have many meetings, focus-specific meetings might mean that there are adult children in that area who would not feel comfortable joining and might therefore not find recovery.

Several people shared that heterosexual is a focus that helped them to achieve recovery given their own traumatic experiences; however, these comments did not support using heterosexual as a means to exclude anyone by any method of screening.  It is felt that the word “only” is exclusionary and goes against traditions at the same time that it perpetuates a culture that continues to make oppressed groups feel different and outside.

Additional focus was put on building this resolution via a democratic process that seeks out the opinions of the entire fellowship.  This concept includes several factors.  It is seen as important that we poll the meetings, Intergroups and Regions, given that meetings are autonomous and are solely responsible for maintaining a safe space for their members.  It is desirable that any final resolution be brought to ABC so that delegates from the fellowship at large are able to give their input through feedback and a final vote.  In building any proposed resolution, it is important that the traditions are used for guidance and that legal ramifications are addressed.


Specific Comments

  • If there’s only one meeting in an area, it should not be exclusionary.
  • A men’s only meeting that was exclusionary which I believe to be against traditions.
  • Safety is the responsibility of the meeting ACA cannot and should not enact policy to keep people safe.
  • I think that this whole thing is perpetuating and catering to a culture of fear and discrimination. And I don’t find that relevant for creating policy. It seems more appropriate to dismantle the culture of fear and discrimination rather than create policy that honors it.
  • Safety is the responsibility of the individual and the individual meetings, speaks to personal accountability.
  • Personal autonomy and the traditions, you cannot leave the traditions out of this conversation.
  • If you close meetings to people because you do not like who they are, or you fear them due to overlaying your trauma issues on to who you think they might be in the meeting, you’re denying them recovery, and that’s discrimination.
  • We’re talking about are the traditions and which specific traditions and concepts will help the fellowship decide on these issues.
  • “Only” meetings conflicts with tradition one.
  • There are specifically focused meetings, which is different thing entirely.
  • The primary purpose is for the newcomer and newcomers may have had past traumas that can create a lot of emotional intoxication when that element is in the room that triggers them. It’s really important we provide the safe on routes for newcomers.
  • I understand some members needs support for their identity, in addition to the ACA issues.
  • The traditions do not support a personality.
  • I specifically picked this heterosexual men’s only group because it was a group that I felt that I could relate to most easily with other members who came from similar walks of life, and just environment that I felt that I could safely speak. But its dangerous territory and a slippery slope when we start to play with the idea of who and making policy around this.
  • I think there’s value in people being able to focus on aspects of themselves that aren’t necessarily going to be shared with everyone in a mixed group.
  • No one is excluded but the focus of the group is for non white people. And we don’t screen anyone by skin color. If you feel like you identify as non white, and you want to show up and be in the group. That’s fine. If you’re uncomfortable, that’s fine too.
  • I hope that people aren’t trying to make decisions for other people about experiences that they don’t have.
  • I just wanted to speak to my experience as a pretty broken person coming into ACA. Having the ability to find a men’s heterosexual meeting was hugely helpful for me to even stick with ACA.
  • It is actually about reaching out to the newcomer and a voice they can hear because when they come in, they’re ACA as I am, and I know I’m triggered.
  • It’s really important that I find a group where I’m not potentially going to be in a place where I’ll be tempted to act out.
  • It seems like kind of overstepping to come in and shut down groups.
  • Where I believe there can be a middle ground is that, if only meetings are labeled as a meeting focus, and when they register on the website, or as the meeting list gets cleaned up and refined in the future. They can list their focus, but the meeting will have to agree to that they cannot exclude if they want to be listed on the website.
  • Focus-specific allow us to interact on a deeper level because there are cultural issues that do not bring up talking about the same things, abandonment grief, but within that environment to parents who are immigrants, etc.
  • I’m a child of immigrants, I’ve experienced racism here in the US. I go to people of color meetings only so that I can focus on my recovery.
  • Each group is autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or ACA as a whole.
  • We as an organization should not support exclusion.
  • Registration on that website is important for meetings and members to have a voice.
  • My hope is that the fellowship can come to an ABC and make the tradition based decision on what they want.
  • Legal ramifications are important