Published 11/30/2019

AAOS Issues Education Speaker Policy on Offensive Content

The AAOS Education Speaker Policy on Offensive Content was created to set expectations for speakers at AAOS educational events, including but not limited to annual meetings, courses, webinars, and symposia (“events”).


To define a set of expectations for speakers at AAOS events that are consistent with the AAOS Anti-discrimination and Anti-harassment Policy and Procedures (“ADAH policy”), as well as procedures for managing complaints related to offensive content or behavior presented by speakers at any AAOS event (“speaker policy”). This speaker policy is intended to supplement the existing ADAH policy.


  • The ADAH policy provides a general definition of unacceptable behavior, which includes but is not limited to the presentation of offensive content (“offensive content”).
  • Both the speaker policy and ADAH policy will be posted on the AAOS website and distributed to all speakers, moderators, and organizers of any AAOS event. Speakers will attest to their familiarity with these policies when submitting speaker forms (e.g., conflict-of-interest disclosures, intellectual property, Food and Drug Administration status, etc.).
  • The AAOS chief executive officer or his or her designee is responsible for addressing any complaints involving unacceptable behavior or offensive content directed toward or otherwise involving an AAOS employee(s).

Speaker policy

  • In accordance with items 1b, 1c, and 1d of the AAOS ADAH policy, speakers at any AAOS event will not make verbal or written comments or show visual images that are sexually suggestive; denigrate or show hostility or aversion toward an individual or group of individuals; create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment; or unreasonably interfere with an individual’s ability to participate in an AAOS event. Furthermore, speakers will not engage in intimidating, harassing, abusive, discriminatory, derogatory, or demeaning speech or actions in any context during an AAOS event, nor provide harmful or prejudicial verbal or written comments or visual images related to gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability, age, appearance, or other personal characteristics.
  • This speaker policy may be best summarized by a speaker answering the following questions:
  • Is the potentially offensive comment or image needed to carry my message?
  • Does it need to be in the talk?
  • Do I need to be the one to say it?

Complaints about event speakers

  • Upon the receipt of a complaint about an event speaker, AAOS staff will review the complaint, identify the educational content that prompted the complaint, compile background information, and prepare a complaint summary.
  • As soon as possible, the event and/or educational committee chairs will be notified of the complaint and provided the complaint summary.
    • Committee chairs will review each complaint using a “reasonable person” standard: Would a reasonable person be offended by the content?
    • The committee chairs’ review may include but is not limited to discussions with the speaker, staff, or person(s) raising the complaint.
  • If the committee chairs determine that the offensive content warrants action being taken during the event, the speaker will be notified that:
    • AAOS received a complaint alleging that the speaker presented offensive content.
    • The complaint was reviewed by event committee chairs who determined that immediate action is warranted.
    • Any further presentations scheduled to be given by the speaker during the event may be reviewed in advance by an AAOS education representative (e.g., council chair/member, committee chair, or event chair).
    • AAOS has sole discretion to remove any offensive content from the speaker’s slides/syllabi and/or remove the speaker from the event program.
  • All complaints about event speakers will be referred to the Speaker Complaint Task Force for review.

Speaker Complaint Task Force

  • Annually, the AAOS Council on Education will assign a diverse group of eight AAOS members who sit on education committees to serve on a project team: the Speaker Complaint Task Force (“task force”).
  • At least twice per year, the task force will review all complaints of offensive content AAOS receives about event speakers, including any responses made by a speaker or actions taken by committee chairs during events.
  • If the task force concludes that a speaker has presented offensive content and that an official response is appropriate, the task force may take any or all of the following actions, depending on the severity of the behavior or content:
    • send the speaker a warning letter discussing the task force’s concerns about the offensive content
    • require mandatory preview of any talks given by the speaker at future educational events
    • bar the speaker from presenting at events for a defined period of time
    • permanently ban the speaker from presenting at events

Privilege of speaking at AAOS events

Speaking at an AAOS educational event is a privilege, not a right. AAOS reserves the right to restrict or cancel an opportunity to speak and/or present at an AAOS event at any time or to ban a speaker from presenting at any future AAOS events.

Role of the Professional Compliance Program

This speaker policy is not intended to modify or replace the AAOS Professional Compliance Program. Any AAOS member may file a grievance against a speaker who is also an AAOS member for review under the Professional Compliance Program. Any such grievance submission must be based on one or more of the six AAOS Mandatory Standards of Professionalism and shall be subject to the AAOS bylaws and the program’s grievance procedures.

Right to modify policy

AAOS reserves the right to modify this AAOS Education Speaker Policy on Offensive Content at any time. Changes and modifications will be effective when approved and posted.

To access the official version of the policy, visit https://bit.ly/32AQlEy.