SM vs. Abuse - Leather Leadership Conference Statement
This brochure is intended to help law enforcement and social services professionals understand the difference between abusive relationships vs. consensual sadomasochism (SM).
Law Enforcement Field Guide to SM
The purpose of this brochure is to provide law enforcement with a basic level of understanding about adults whose sexuality and lovemaking includes consensual sadomasochistic (SM) activities, and to provide information to assist you when you encounter an SM event.
Mission Statement and a brief description of goals and presentations offered
The Education Outreach Programis designed to help educate those inside and outside the community about important issues relevant to those who practice consensual BDSM, swinging and polyamory. NCSF offer over twenty (20) different workshops available for presentation by trained professionals. Over 400 Eucational Outreach Program workshops have been presented across the country in the last twelve years.
Leigha Fleming, Interim Executive Director
By Lou Briquant
Whether you're a swinging couple, a quiet practitioner of SM, Gay/Les couple or single, or a member of a polyamorous relationship, there are people in this world who are looking out for your interests and your freedom to be who you are. Leigha Fleming is the Interim Executive Director of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, a volunteer post that is a lot of hard work with intangible but fulfilling rewards.
Ms. Fleming got involved in the NCSF over the past few years. She tells us that she is currently doing any of several related jobs within the organization. "I most enjoy managing NCSF's Constituency Services, which include our Incident Response Program and our Legal Education Outreach Program. The most important qualities for any volunteer, regardless of position, is dependability. You have to do what you say you're going to do. You have to follow through and be accountable. We have to listen to what our constituents want and need from us, and we have to have confidence and to believe in our mission and vision."
Fleming never planned to be an activist or advocate. She was very involved in the SM-leather-fetish community and, as her participation grew, her awareness of discrimination and challenges faced by those involved in alternative lifestyles grew as well. "I've always had very strong opinions regarding governmental interference in private lives of adults. As I saw friends lose custody of their children, and SM groups getting hassled by the police, I began to get angry. Anger is a great motivator for change!"
Fleming happened to hear about the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) about five years ago, when her educational SM group began doing outreach to the local police. An NCSF staffer heard about the successful meetings, and contacted her. NCSF was just beginning its its Legal Education Outreach Program
(LEOP), so she got involved at that time. She believed, and still does, that the NCSF will make a difference.
Holding down a fulltime job, in addition to the necessary duties, is taxing and extremely time-consuming. She spends three or four hours a day on average, dealing with NCSF-related issues. The most difficult aspect of the volunteer work, outside of the time, is making sure everything is coordinated and follow-up is properly done.
The struggle continues, against with anti-privacy/anti-First Amendment forces that want to curtail the ability of our communities to meet, attend events, and become educated. "We had numerous confrontations with religious extremist organizations like the Concerned Women for America last year," Leigha said. "Their attempts to shut down our events continue. Fortunately, we local communities are beginning to utilize NCSF as a resource for dealing with media inquiries and for working with their local law enforcement."
"Our lawsuit against the federal government over the Communications and Decency Act continues. The court recently refused to dismiss our case against the government and so that is moving forward. We have a dozen or more "incidents" pending involving child custody and divorce and we're currently involved in a criminal case involving SM."
NCSF is in a growth phase right now. It's in the process of transitioning from a grassroots-model organization operated by consensus, to a professionally run national non-profit organization. Fleming, speaking on the changes, says, "They're making that transition very effectively. I expect to add more workshops to our Legal Education Outreach Program and, with the help of its new director Robyn Friedman, recruit more qualified volunteers to train. We also will be expanding and strengthening our ability to respond to both individual and group incidents. In addition, we'll be improving the internal structure of the organization and positioning ourselves to be a viable entity for many years to come. We will be filling our Executive Direction postion with a paid employee soon."
When asked what obstacles is the NCSF able to overcome in the near term, Leigha responded, "Like many non-profit organizations, we've been hit very hard by the downturn in the economy. We need to place NCSF on secure financial footing. We also need to put in place a system that can track and manage all the wonderful folks who volunteer for NCSF. In addition, we need to recruit and train qualified volunteers for our LEOP and Incident Response programs."
Fleming is responsible for the day to day oversight of NCSF's budget and finances. She says they have done a remarkable job of eliminating debt over the last six months, as well as having reduced their expenses. Fundraising Coordinator Glenda Rider does what Fleming calls "a magnificent job" of soliciting on behalf of NCSF. "We're working daily on implementing processes that increase our structural integrity."
As for problems up ahead, Fleming believes, "Our greatest external challenges in the near future come from those groups who want to restrict or eliminate the right of consenting adults to freely assemble and learn from one another. Another significant challenge rests in getting the word out about NCSF, and what we do for our own communities."
When asked what she thought of the relative amount of lifestyle freedom in the United States vis-à-vis other nations, Ms. Fleming has mixed feelings. "In some respects the US is freer. Even other first-world countries place restrictions on the practice of religion, press, etc... However, I would argue that the US is signifcantly less free when than other first-world countries when it comes to attitudes about sexuality and alternative sexual practices. In addition, the US has made a dangerous shift since 9/11. Laws allowing the federal government to invade the privacy of Americans in the pursuit of perceived terrorism have a chilling effect on us all."
"The NCSF's lawsuit against the federal government regarding the Communications & Decency Act is a significant challenge to the notion that someone in small-town USA has the right and ability to govern what a person in New York City creates online. In addition, we are actively working to dispel antiquated beliefs about alternative lifestyles, both in and out of our own communities."
Fleming has met with groups spanning the spectrum of consenting adults' lifestyles. "I've learned a number of things: First, I've learned we have a lot in common. Swingers, poly folks, and those in the SM-leather-fetish communities all face the same kind of discrimination. We all have the same challenges with our clubs, with educating others. Second, I've learned how much we tend to segment ourselves from one another. When we first included swingers and poly folks in our mission statement, I was so surprised to hear people say, "But we're not like them!" The SMers professed disdain for the swingers. The poly folks didn't think they had anything in common with the SM people, and so forth."
Fleming feels that our greatest challenge is uniting across our lifestyle lines, without engaging in fragmentation that could weaken or even destroy the advances now being made. Working together can help ensure safety and freedom for everyone.
**NCSF thanks Leigha for all her hard work and continuing support of our coalition.
The mission of the ITCR The Foundation of NCSF and its Education Outreach Program is to provide members of the SM-Leather-Fetish, swing and polyamory communities educational information concerning relevant legal, medical and other issues. To 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.
The EOP has the following goals:
To support efforts and goals of NCSF and its sister foundation, ITCR: The Foundation of NCSF.
To assist SM-Leather-Fetish, swing and polyamory groups and communities in their efforts to educate themselves about legal issues that affect their communities and individual relationships
To assist alternative sexuality groups and communities by providing relevant, up-to-date information about dealing with law enforcement and other authorities, and assist them in working with their local law enforcement and other authorities
To provide law enforcement and other government authorities with information about alternative sexuality as appropriate
To assist alternative sexuality groups and communities in their efforts to educate and work with their local law enforcement and other authorities
NCSF’s 2014 Roundup
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National Coalition for Sexual Freedom: Are you ready for the Fifty Shades of Gray Movie?
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50 Shades of NCSF Palm Cards
GayLawNet Joins Forces with NCSF
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SM vs. Abuse - Leather Leadership Conference Statement
SM vs. Abuse - Leather Leadership Conference Statement This brochure is intended to help law enforcement and social services professionals understand the difference between abusive relationships vs. consensual sadomasochism (SM).
Law Enforcement Field Guide to SM
Law Enforcement Field Guide to SM The purpose of this brochure is to provide law enforcement with a basic level of understanding about adults whose sexuality and lovemaking includes consensual sadomasochistic (SM) activities, and to provide information to assist you when you encounter an SM event.
Wallet Card (Word document) A pocket reference for dealing with law enforcement
EOP Overview Mission Statement and a brief description of goals and presentations offered
Life & Death Issues for the Alternative Community
The purpose of this presentation is to acquaint members of the alternative lifestyle communities with issues that may arise from the nature of their relationships both during life as well as in the event of death or disability. Many of us are involved in dedicated relationships outside of the traditional…
Field guide for law enforcement
The following is a handout prepared by The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom aimed at educating law enforcement on the realities of SM. The purpose of this handout is to provide law enforcement with a basic level of understanding about adults whose sexuality and lovemaking includes consensual sadomasochistic (SM) activities,…
What is SM Presentation
For detailed information about the content of this presentation, please visit What is SM?
The purpose of this material is to assist SM/Leather/Fetish groups who are considering hosting an alternative lifestyle event. The goal in presenting this material is to assist in developing a positive relationship with local hospitality venues. Download the pdf
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Police Interactions ? What to do when you deal with police
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Juvenile/CPS/Child Services for BDSM Parents
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Child Custody & Divorce: Considerations for Alternative Lifestyles
Child Custody & Divorce: Considerations for Alternative Lifestyles The problems that arise in child custody disputes between spouses and partners create special concerns for members of the SM/leather/fetish/poly communities. In addition to the general tribulations that arise with privacy and personal security, these issues also require difficult decisions at a…
Doing SM Related Legal Research
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Protecting Your Event
Protecting Your Event There are many considerations organizers must contend with when planning a large event. Large events include educational and social conferences, leather contests, weekend play parties, vendor markets, swing events and club run0s. In light of recent attacks by religious and political extremists, here are some suggested guidelines…
Protecting Yourself Legally
Protecting Yourself Legally Members of the SM/leather/fetish communities have always had some level of concern regarding the issues of privacy, discretion, and personal security. The Radical Right, employers, ex-partners, and others may pose threats to these concepts. Many times their motivation comes from ignorance, but new motivations like custody of…
Traveling With Toys
Traveling With Toys While there have always been security issues involved in travel, the current political climate, as well as new legislation, has changed the procedures used to achieve security, as well as changing the allowable items to be carried with the traveler. Security measures have been heightened as never…
Swing Groups & Law Enforcement: Group Issues
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Approaching Your Local Authorities
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Zoning for SM & Swing Groups and Businesses
Zoning for SM & Swing Groups and Businesses Zoning and permit issues are commonly used as a tool of local governments when seeking a method to attack SM groups and businesses. Typical "crimes" such as indecent exposure, lewd conduct, and the like are subject to interpretation by the police, prosecutor,…
The Alleged Domestic Violence Call
The Alleged Domestic Violence Call It is important for SM/leather/fetish persons to have an understanding of the relationship between the SM community and law enforcement and of the numerous legal issues that can effect us ? specifically the law enforcement response to an alleged domestic violence call. Once this is…
SM Groups & Law Enforcement: Group Issues
SM Groups & Law Enforcement: Group Issues It is important for SM/leather/fetish groups to have an understanding of the relationship between the SM community and law enforcement and of the numerous legalities that can effect their group functions. Once this is accomplished, the group can dispel myths, educate its members,…