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Harassment and Safety Policy

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation’s oldest and largest interdisciplinary membership organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. GSA assembles professionals from around the world at its conferences and its Annual Scientific Meeting to foster collaborations and support its mission to cultivate excellence in interdisciplinary aging research and education to advance innovations in practice and policy.  

GSA embeds diversity, equity, and inclusion as fundamental principles and practices across the Society. GSA is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all participants, regardless of actual or perceived gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, ability, socioeconomic status, age, or religion. “Participant” refers to anyone present at a GSA conference, including staff, contractors, vendors, exhibitors, venue staff, GSA members, and all registered attendees.  

Expected behavior:

  • All participants of any GSA conference will be expected to abide by this safety plan in all meeting venues including ancillary events and official and unofficial gatherings.
  • All participants of any GSA conference will be expected to abide by the norms of professional respect necessary to promote conditions for free and open academic interchange.
  • If potential harm to a meeting participant is witnessed, all conference participants are encouraged to be proactive in helping to mitigate or avoid that harm.  

The following behaviors will be considered harassment and will not be tolerated:  

  • Words, signs, jokes, pranks, physical contact, epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, or intimidating acts;  
  • Written or graphic material circulated or posted in the venue that shows hostility toward people due to their Protected Category;  
  • Use of threatening reprisals after a negative response to sexual advances;  
  • Visual conduct such as leering, making sexual gestures, or displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters;  
  • Verbal conduct such as making derogatory comments, sexually explicit jokes, or comments about an individual’s body or dress;  
  • Verbal abuse of any kind, graphic verbal commentary about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words describing an individual, or suggestive or obscene letters, notes, or invitations;  
  • Physical conduct such as touching, assault, or impeding or blocking movement;  
  • Retaliation for reporting harassment or threatening to report harassment.
  • Offensive and unwelcome sexual invitations, whether or not the individual submits to the invitation;  
  • Offensive and unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including sexually graphic spoken comments, offensive comments transmitted by e-mail or other messaging system, offensive or suggestive images or graphics (whether physically present in the venue or accessed over the Internet), or the possession of or use of sexually suggestive objects;
  • Offensive and unwelcome physical contact of a sexual nature, including the touching of another’s body, the touching or display of one’s own body, or any similar contact; and  
  • Improper use of e-mail, voice mail, and other electronic messaging systems, or the Internet, including any message or graphic that may be offensive based on any Protected Category, sending or forwarding so-called humor containing items that could be offensive, especially in terms of any Protected Category.  

Procedure on how to confidentially report alleged violations of the expectations of behavior:

GSA’s procedures for addressing alleged violations of the expectations of behavior applies to all participants of any GSA conference, for the duration of, and after the meeting, and its associated events. All reports will be handled in a confidential manner. Participants will be encouraged to reach out to our meeting organizer, Eugenia Bachaleda at 202-587-2844 or, and the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) ( if they have any questions, concerns or complaints related to alleged violations of the aforementioned expected behaviors. Participants will be provided with contact information and instructions via our communication plan.  

GSA is dedicated to a harassment-free experience for all meeting participants. GSA staff will not tolerate harassment of meeting participants in any form and will review and respond to reports of harassment. GSA strongly respects an individual’s interest in confidentiality and will handle all reports with sensitivity. Information related to a report will only be disclosed on a need-to-know basis for the purposes of investigation. The consequences for alleged violations will be determined by factors including the immediacy of the threat to annual meeting attendees and the severity and frequency of the alleged violation.  

Participants are not required to file a complaint with the meeting organizer before filing a complaint of discrimination with HHS OCR and seeking assistance from the meeting organizer in no way prohibits filing complaints with HHS OCR. At NIH’s Find Help webpage, participants can report concerns of harassment, including sexual harassment, discrimination, and other forms of inappropriate conduct.


The Gerontological Society of America is the oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. GSA’s principal mission — and that of our 5,500 members — is to promote the study of aging and disseminate information to scientists, decision makers, and the general public. Founded in 1945, GSA is the driving force behind advancing innovation in aging — both domestically and internationally. Our members come from more than 50 countries. To further fulfill our mission, GSA assembles more nearly 4,000 professionals from around the world to an Annual Scientific Meeting. This monumental event now features more than 500 sessions each year. Additionally, we publish the field’s preeminent peer-reviewed journals.



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Washington, DC 20005-5601
United States


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