The following checklist for OA groups and service bodies is offered in the spirit of Overeaters Anonymous’ Third Tradition and the OA Unity With Diversity Policy Statement. This checklist is not meant to be exhaustive, nor can it be. As we continue to grow, so does our understanding of diversity. These questions are only a starting point for reflection and discussion. We hope that newcomers who are used to “closed doors” can find not only a welcome in OA, but also a home if they wish. As OA’s responsibility pledge states: “Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion; for this, I am responsible.”
- In what ways do we welcome all who share our compulsion, regardless of race, ethnicity, language, culture, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or any other attribute?
- What measures do we take to provide meeting access to OA members who have challenges such as mental or physical disabilities or illnesses, or those who have allergies? What about those who have small children or those who rely on public transportation?
- How do we welcome members such as anorexics, bulimics or those who have had weight-loss procedures? Do we welcome OA members in relapse as authentically as we welcome newcomers or any other members?
- Does our group meeting format use the Diversity Statement included in OA’s current Suggested Meeting Format?
- Do we avoid suggesting that all OA members have the same issues with food, such as addiction to specific foods, a need to weigh and measure, and so on?
- How do we communicate to newcomers—and reinforce to all members—that Higher Power means a God of our individual understanding and is not specific to any particular religion, faith or concept?
- Do we respect each member’s way of practicing the OA Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in a manner best suited to his or her own needs?
- Do we emphasize all three aspects of recovery (spiritual, emotional and physical) equally, or do we focus only on one or two?
- Does our OA literature table stock items that highlight our common solution through diversity, such as:
- A Common Solution: Diversity and Recovery;
- Black OA Members Share Their Experience, Strength and Hope;
- Dignity of Choice;
- Focus on Anorexia and Bulimia Packet;
- Many Symptoms, One Solution;
- OA Members Come in All Sizes;
- To the Teen;
- To the Man Who Wants to Stop Compulsive Overeating, Welcome;
- Welcome Back, We Care! Packet; and
- Young Person’s Packet
- How do we reflect diversity when we conduct business meetings, elect trusted servants or choose speakers and workshop leaders?
- In what ways do we carry the OA message to groups who are currently underrepresented in the rooms? Speakers? Workshops? Special focus meetings? Other methods of attraction?
- Having completed this checklist, what other areas can we examine in order to
better “extend the hand and heart of OA” to all who share our compulsion?
For guidelines on how to hold a Group Conscience Meeting, see Guidelines for a Group Conscience Meeting. More information is also available in the OA Handbook for Members, Groups and Service Bodies in the OA Bookstore (bookstore.oa.org).