12 Steps and Gender
A question recently was asked from within our fellowship. I had to do a bit of research to find some answers and thought I would share the what I learned.
Q: Can the Steps be re-written so that they are non-gender specific?
A: Upon researching the answer, I discovered that this question comes up often in our fellowship. So often that the WSO Executive Director, wrote a memo for Delegates to provide information about it.
Here is an excerpt:
Al-Anon is a worldwide fellowship with an extremely diverse membership. Our literature, based on the personal sharings of our members, expresses a wide array of concepts of a ‘Power greater than ourselves.’ The words ‘as we understood’ were included in the Steps so that all members could define for themselves the Power referred to in Step Two. In Al-Anon each of us is free to understand and identify this Power in our own way. Throughout our literature we are reminded of the tremendous freedom each member has to interpret ‘Higher Power’ or ‘God’ according to his or her own understanding. Pages 13 and 211 in Courage to Change (B-16), page 146 in Hope for Today (B-27), and page 49 of How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics (B-22) all reiterate this idea.
If such a change were to be initiated, it would come in the form of a Minority Petition as discussed in Concept 5. The petition would go to the WSO Policy Committee for review and then the Executive Committee, and finally the World Service Conference. If all Delegates approved in substantial unanimity, the petition would go out to every Al-Anon/Alateen Group worldwide for discussion and vote. Finally, if such a change were to take place, it would require 3/4 of the worldwide groups to send a “yes” to the WSO.
As you can see, it would be difficult to make the change, but there is a process for individuals to be heard. That process would be through Knowledge Based Decision Making (KDBM) and would require the answer to the following questions:
What do we know about our members’ needs, wants, and preferences that relates to this issue?
What do we know about our resources that relates to this issue?
What do we know about our “culture” or “environment” that relates to this issue?
What are the implications of our choices? (pros and cons)
What do we not know about this issue that we wish we knew?
There are also several references to a 6th KDBM question in my research: How do Al-Anon’s legacies apply to this issue? Once all the questions are answered, the information would be forwarded to the Delegate to send on to the Policy Committee to initiate consideration.
Finally, I look forward to seeing everyone at the May Assembly, where I will be providing my report on the happenings of the World Service Conference that was held in May.
Illinois North, Panel 55