In this issue
NCSF's Consent Counts project is holding discussions around the country to gather your input on our Consent Statement so we can move forward to change laws and perceptions of BDSM. Kinky people still have significant legal, political and societal issues facing us. The majority of us fear the very real threat of being prosecuted or losing our jobs or families. To change the assault laws, we have to be able to tell the world what we think of consent. What is ethical consent? What are the gray areas? Are there things people shouldn't be able to consent to in a BDSM context?
"The APA has made it clear that being kinky is not a mental disorder," says Susan Wright, Spokesperson for NCSF. "That means people no longer have to fear being diagnosed as mentally ill just because they belong to a BDSM group. We've already seen the impact -NCSF immediately saw a sharp rise in the success rate of child custody cases for kinky parents after the proposed DSM-5 criteria was released three years ago."
NCSF would like to thank everyone who participated in signing our DSM Revision Petition and for telling the APA about their own stories of discrimination and persecution. NCSFalso thanks every member of the APA Paraphilias Subworkgroup for responding to our concerns, and drawing a hard line between consensual adult kinky sex and those who willfully engage in nonconsensual or harmful activities.
NCSF is proud to build on the work of kink-aware professionals who have come before us, including Race Bannon and Guy Baldwin, who helped make seminal changes in the DSM-IV in 1994.
The following are some statements about the various paraphilias in the DSM-5. Although highly clinical in language, they show the APA's intent to not demand treatment for healthy consenting adult sexual expression:
"A paraphilia is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having a paraphilic disorder, and a paraphilia by itself does not necessarily justify or require clinical intervention." p. 686
"In contrast, if they declare no distress, exemplified by anxiety, obsessions, guilt or shame, about these paraphilic impulses, and are not hampered by them in pursuing other personal goals, they could be ascertained as having masochistic sexual interest but should not be diagnosed with a sexual masochism disorder." p. 694
"Many individuals who self-identify as fetishist practitioners do not necessarily report clinical impairment in association with their fetish-associated behaviors. Such individuals could be considered as having a fetish but not fetishistic disorder." p. 701
"Clinical assessment of distress or impairment, like clinical assessment of transvestic sexual arousal, is usually dependent on the individual's self-report." p. 703
To support NCSF, go to www.ncsfreedom.org. NCSF relies entirely on your donations toadvance the rights of consenting adults and to do advocacy like our DSM Revision Project. Please donate now!
The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (often referred to as NCSF) is committed to creating a political, legal and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights for consenting adults who engage in alternative sexual and relationship expressions. But why should the BDSM, leather, fetish, swing and polyamory communities that are the focus of NCSF's efforts, and their friends and allies, support our work? Good question.
Perhaps the best way to demonstrate the importance of supporting, joining or otherwise empowering the work that NCSF does is to clearly lay out some of the many services we offer, initiatives we've undertaken and informative collateral that we offer.
NCSF was formed in 1997 by a small group led by Susan Wright under the auspices of the New York SM Activists. The goal was to fight for sexual freedom and privacy rights for all adults who engage in safe, sane and consensual behavior.
The first five organizations who joined reflected our desire to be a nationwide organization: National Leather Association-International; Gay Male S/M Activists; The Eulenspiegel Society; Black Rose; and Society of Janus.
Today, NCSF has over 100 Coalition Partners who elect the board that runs NCSF and help establish our goals at the annual Coalition Partner meeting. Coalition Partners are groups and businesses who serve BDSM/leather/fetish, swing and polyamory practitioners and also support NCSF by holding an annual fundraiser. NCSF also has over 100 Supporting Members - groups and businesses that support NCSF.
Over the years, NCSF has formed alliances with other organizations that defend sexual freedom rights: Free Speech Coalition, the ACLU, American Association of Sex Educators Counselors and Therapists, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance, among others.
NCSF is the preeminent organization with a mission to improve the lives of those who consider themselves practitioners or community members among those who pursue BDSM/leather/fetish or swing sexualities or engage in polyamorous relationships.
What We Do
NCSF does many things to advance the rights of those who engage in consensual BDSM/leather/fetish, swing and polyamory lives. The best way to get a good sense of the full range of activities, projects and services that NCSF offers is to view the following sections that explain in some detail what NCSF has been up to lately.
NCSF took over leadership in the nationwide Consent Counts project working to decriminalize BDSM and create a database of relevant state laws.
The Consent Counts project involves the BDSM communities in a nationwide education and activism program coordinated and led by NCSF. This multifaceted campaign includes a comprehensive analysis of current laws and court decisions, the development of legal arguments for changing the laws, participating in court cases, and ultimately, through lobbying, education and grass-roots activism, changing state laws and the way the public and the courts view BDSM.
An important element of the project is an Educational Outreach Program (EOP) to educate our own communities about the current state of the law and the efforts NCSF is undertaking to involve those communities in our strategic planning process and the development of "best practices" by which we can protect ourselves and facilitate change.
To ensure that the work NCSF is doing as part of Consent Counts is based on the best information possible, An Internet survey was undertaken by NCSF gauge respondents' views on consent in a BDSM context. There were a total of 5,667 respondents and the results guide the Consent Counts project and were utilized in developing the draft of the NCSF Consent Statement. This is an official statement presented as a discussion of the ethical and legal concepts of consent that need to be considered in the practice of BDSM activities and in relationships based on BDSM activities. It reflects both the extensive study by NCSF of the state of the law in the U.S. and the results of NCSF's Consent Counts Survey. This Statement is intended for both BDSM practitioners and the general public.
Incident Reporting and Response
NCSF's Incident Reporting & Response (IRR) was created to provide assistance to individuals and groups within the alternative sexual expression communities. If someone engaged in BDSM, fetish, swing or polyamory practices is being persecuted or discriminated against because of it, we encourage them to contact NCSF's IRR program. We may also be able to assist if a group or business is being harassed by religious political extremists or if they need assistance doing outreach to their local law enforcement.
NCSF's IRR program uses three primary criteria for taking a case:
- The issue must openly, directly, and specifically relate to BDSM, swing or poly activities between consenting adults. In other words, the problems faced must relate to or be caused from involvement in BDSM, swing or poly, without question.
- The issue must be one whose outcome or precedent could affect not just the individual filing the complaint, but potentially a significant number of people with the same or similar problem.
- The incident needs to have a reasonable chance of a successful resolution; usually indicating that the individual filing has not also been found guilty of a crime other than behaviors currently considered illegal relating to BDSM, swing or poly.
Our IRR program may be able to assist with city and county mediation (zoning, licensing, and so on), custody and divorce information, employee and personnel issues, kink-aware professional referrals, criminal assistance, domestic violence assistance, and assisting when events are attacked (working with police, media, health departments, and so on).
Due to limited resources NCSF is only able to take a fraction of the cases that come to us. Many of the complaints we receive do not meet all of the above criteria. Even under the best circumstances, NCSF can only help a small percentage of those who merit it. All of our work is done by volunteers and we accept no payment for our services.
Kink Aware Professionals
The Kink Aware Professionals Directory (often referred to as KAP) offers the alternative sexualities and relationship communities referrals to psychotherapy, medical, legal and other professionals who are knowledgeable about and sensitive to diverse expressions of sexuality and relationships.
While NCSF cannot endorse or recommend these professionals, each professional listed has volunteered to be available for referral to people involved in kinky sexuality (leather, BDSM, fetish, and so on), polyamory, swinging, or publicly offers their services to that client population.
NCSF compiles a wide array of educational and informational materials on a variety of topics. We organize them in our online Resource Library for easy and free access to the public. Categories include Activist Resources, Consent Counts resources, DSM Resources, Educational Outreach Program Presentations and Publications, Kink Aware Professionals (for both professionals and those seeking assistance), Media Outreach Resources, NCSF Publicity Materials, Recommended Reading, Statistics and Surveys, and What is SM? Check out the amazing array of resources available to you for free from NCSF.
Amid the categories of resources already mentioned you'll find many other useful documents for groups and event producers that assist in specific ways such as membership forms for social groups or private clubs, non-disclosure agreements, independent contractors agreements, employee work environment agreements, model release agreements, event/play space rules, recommendations for event planning, hotel negotiations manual, and a statement for hotel personnel when a hotel is attacked.
One of the missions of the NCSF Foundation and its Education Outreach Program (EOP) is to provide members of the BDSM/Leather/Fetish, swing and polyamory communities educational information concerning relevant legal, medical and other issues. We also provide education, as appropriate, to law enforcement, care providers, and other authorities about alternative sexuality, and to assist and support the outreach and education efforts of local communities.
As part of EOP, NCSF works with District Attorneys and prosecutors to educate them with the intent to minimize discriminatory prosecutions, offers workshops by trained staff on a wide variety of topics, publishes white papers for professionals and members of the various communities, offers educational brochures and handouts, and conducts surveys on our community and publishes those results for others to utilize.
Media Outreach Program Media Training, News and Information
Through our Media Outreach Program NCSF does media advocacy for the millions of Americans who suffer discrimination and persecution because of their normal interest in some form of alternative sexual expression, such as BDSM, fetishes, polyamory, and swinging. A great deal of the bigotry against sexual minorities occurs because of a lack of information and the resulting negative depiction by the media. We offer resources for both the media and the alternative sexual expression communities.
NCSF also offers assistance to organizations and event producers by helping them with press releases, intervention during a media crisis, media spokesperson representation, media training and ongoing support, and suggested sound bites and interview tips.
In addition to our Media Outreach and Training Programs, NCSF offers news and information to our constituency through a variety of communication mechanisms.
Blog - News and information items are posted to our blog on a regular basis. Sometimes posts are originally authored articles and sometimes they are media updates which are a sampling of recent stories printed in U.S. newspapers, magazines, and selected websites. These stories contain significant mentions of BDSM/leather/fetish, polyamory, or swing issues and topics and may be positive, negative, or anywhere in between.
In The News - Learn how NCSF is impacting lives for the better.
NCSF Newsletter - NCSF regularly publishes a free newsletter to which anyone can subscribe.
Press Releases - When NCSF undertakes an important project, gets involved in important issues, or otherwise wants its constituency and the world at large to know about something, we issue press releases.
- Action Alerts - When NCSF feels quick action is necessary by the public they serve, we issue Action Alerts outlining the action we hope people will take and why.
- NCSF also recognizes excellence in journalism reporting through our Sex Positive Journalism Awards (also known as "The Sexies").
- Legal Information and Assistance - When appropriate, NCSF may offer referrals to specific attorneys, the filing of amicus briefs, lobbying assistance, assistance with certain pertinent legislative initiatives, and legal background support through such efforts are our SM/Abuse Statement and our Consent Counts project.
DSM Revision Project
NCSF has successfully petitioned the American Psychiatric Association, resulting in the depathologizing of consensual BDSM in the latest Diagnostic & Statistics Manual (DSM). This helps not only those seeking psychotherapy treatment by not having their sexuality called into question during therapy, but also improves community members' legal standing in certain court cases when the DSM has been used as evidence.
When the American Psychiatric Association formed their working committees to revise its most recent version of the DSM, the definitive resource on the diagnostic criteria for all mental disorders, NCSF became involved. Past statements within the DSM paraphilias criteria are contradicted by scientific evidence and therefore NCSF concluded that the interpretation of the paraphilias criteria had been not based on science. These often politically motivated interpretations subject BDSM practitioners, fetishists and cross-dressers to bias, discrimination and social sanctions without any scientific basis. We called on the American Psychiatric Association to remove or drastically restructure the paraphilias section in the DSM which resulted in some considerable success.
The 2008 Survey of Violence & Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities found significant discrimination and persecution against BDSM practitioners due to the social stigma attached to their sexual behavior. With over 3,000 respondents, 37.5% indicated that they had either been discriminated against or experienced some form of harassment or violence.
The survey addresses the gap in current knowledge by reporting data on the prevalence of violence and discrimination against BDSM and polyamory practitioners. The persecution of these individuals is conceptualized as a manifestation of sexual stigma, that is, society's negative regard for any non- heterosexual behavior, identity, relationship, or community.
NCSF provides brochures and other NCSF materials for dissemination at events or to be used by organizations, clubs and other groups. A great example of such material is the Consent Counts Discussion Guide. The Consent Counts Discussion Guide offers groups a structured and organized way to foster discussion in their local alternative sexualities communities about the topic of consent. Visit our website to view the various materials we can offer.
More Information and Contacting NCSF
NCSF maintains a robust website on which you'll find lots of great information as well how to contact us. On our website we also include an event calendar listing NCSF and Coalition Partners events. We have a wide array of social media venues that keep our constituency and the public at large informed about NCSF and related news and information. We encourage people to bookmark our website and to keep informed about NCSF and related news and information through our social media platforms.
FetLife Consent Counts
Through the use of social media and virtual communications, NCSF provides its members, partners and the general public continuous updates regarding news, legislation, trends and information of interest to the BDSM, leather, kink, swing and poly communities.
People and organizations can support NCSF in a number of ways. By supporting NCSF, you help keep our important programs and services alive. NCSF operates through the financial contributions and volunteer efforts of wonderful people around the nation and world.
People and organizations can join NCSF as members at one of three levels of membership:
Coalition Partners - Our highest level of membership. Coalition Partners support NCSF through annual membership fees plus proceeds of an annual fundraiser for the benefit of NCSF.
Supporting Members - Individuals or organizations support NCSF with an annual membership fee.
- Individual Members - Individual constituents hold membership in NCSF by contributing annual membership dues.
- For organizations that support NCSF we offer the option to place our NCSF logo on your website, utilize NCSF ads that can be downloaded and used, include your name on our website as a supporting organization or business, and garner special recognition for our Coalition Partners.
- Donations - In addition to memberships, NCSF can always use donations. NCSF is comprised of two separate corporate entities - the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and the NCSF Foundation. Although both the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and the NCSF Foundation are part of the same overall organization, it is necessary to have two separate organizations to enable us to do the broad range of work we do. Supporters of NCSF can choose to make a contribution to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, the NCSF Foundation, or both. A contribution to either organization will be used to support and promote the NCSF mission. Donors who wish to make a tax-deductible gift can do so by contributing to the NCSF Foundation. Many donors choose to make membership gifts in support of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom as well as tax-deductible gifts to the NCSF Foundation.
- Volunteer - We encourage people to consider donating one of their most important assets to NCSF - their time. Whether someone wants to work behind the scenes or take a more public role, we have a project just right for them. There are important tasks to be done and we always need help to make it all happen.
NCSF has a number of branded products that you can purchase. Profits from the sale of these products go directly to work helping NCSF do the important work we do.