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In 2006, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF's coalition of over 40 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.

NCSF's Incident Response team is directed by Director Leigha Fleming. In total, over 500 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contacted NCSF for help in 2006. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but some evolved into much larger projects.

NCSF received 521 distinct inquiries/requests for assistance. 289 required more than one contact/response to resolve, often requiring multiple contacts. It is difficult to categorize many incident requests as clearly falling into one camp or another. Many overlap in categories. For example, many of our custody/divorce related issues involve at least 2 of our core constituent groups (i.e. SM/leather/fetish and poly for example). In trying to do a statistical breakdown of the requests, we placed it in the category it most clearly matched.

  • 13% were requests regarding SM/abuse/domestic violence issues
  • 6% were regarding criminal complaint issues
  • 7% were regarding employment discrimination
  • 13.5% were regarding child custody/divorce issues
  • 5.5% were in reference to child protective services’ complaints
  • 14.5% were related to SM/leather/fetish group issues
  • 9% were classed as non-employment discrimination
  • 8% were related to swing community issues
  • 8% were regarding online obscenity issues
  • 10.5% were regarding zoning issues
  • 5% were classed as “other”

Of the inquires:

  • 73.5% were driven by SM/leather/fetish issues
  • 15% by swing
  • 7% by poly
  • 4.5% by other


2006 saw an increased number of requests around criminal and domestic violence or SM/abuse related issues. NCSF worked with more than 30 attorneys representing defendants in criminal cases. In addition, we worked with more than 10 district attorneys and prosecutors related to SM issues. The vast majority of these criminal cases revolved around domestic abuse or consensual sex/play issues. There is a clear need for education within our own communities about the role and limits of consent and for education to police authorities about the differences between SM and abuse.

Employment related discrimination is increasing as well.

The implementation of KAP under NCSF’s administration resulted in fewer requests for referrals because we were able to refer the request to our site. As we improve the KAP administration, and resource, the number of requests for referrals that need to be handled by a person will drop since we’ll be able to refer people to the KAP database. The new administration tools for KAP in our website overhaul will also make the use of this tool much more efficient for both user and professional.

We continue to receive a number of requests for assistance from groups, businesses, and other support organizations who want information about how to operate legally, do law enforcement outreach, file for non-profit status, deal with the media or the press, do hotel/event outreach, or do research around zoning or other legal issues.

We also continue to receive requests for assistance involving parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent's ability to be a good parent.

2006 incident response statistics are currently being compiled. As of the end of July 2007, more than 346 distinct requests for assistance have been processed.

NCSF is here to help you -- the SM, swing and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please call NCSF for assistance. You can submit a request for assistance online or find a Kink Aware Professional (KAP) on our website as well at Emergency contact information is available by calling our office at 410.539.4824, 24 hours per day.

Please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!

Donations made to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, Inc are not deductible for charitable tax purposes.

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom
822 Guilford Avenue, Box 127
Baltimore, MD 21202-3707

phone: 410-539-4824

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.

Published in Interviews

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Published in Uncategorized

Individuals from the SM-Leather-Fetish community available for interview


Liz Highleyman

Medical Writer

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Cecilia Tan

Publisher (Circlet Press),

Boston, MA
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
(617) 864-0492


Bill Henkin

Board Certified Sex Therapist,
Clinical Sexologist, MFCC

San Francisco, CA
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
(415) 923-1150


John Warren

Diversified Services

Boston, MA
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(617) 787-7426


Janet Hardy

Publisher (Greenery Press),

San Francisco, CA
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(510) 652-2596


Jay Wiseman


San Francisco, CA
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(510) 652-2596


Trevor Jacques

Publisher (WholeSM),
Author, Researcher

Toronto, Canada
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(416) 962-1040


Susan Wright

Policy Director of NCSF,

New York, NY
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(917) 848-6544


Mistress Lalique

Professional Dominatrix,
Community Organizer

Centerville, MA
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508- 420 - 9045



Published in Interviews


  1. Gather demographic data on the SM-Leather-Fetish communities.

  2. Gain an understanding of the affect of social stigma on SM and fetish practitioners.

SURVEY INSTRUMENT - Paper and electronic distribution (see below)

PERIOD - April 1998 to February 1999


  1. Useful demographic data on the SM-Leather-Fetish communities

  2. Sense of the magnitude of the problems arising from the stigma against SM

  3. Clear justification for a more professional survey



Men  51%  Heterosexual  40%
Women  46% Homosexual  22%
Transgender  1% Bisexual  36%
Intersexual  2% No Response   4%
Student 8% 18-22 3% Under $ 10K 7%
Part time 5%  23-29 15% $10-24K 17%
Full time 62% 30-44 49% $25-49K 37%
Self employed 22% 45-64 31% Over $50K 39%
Unemployed 1% Over 65 2%    
Retired 2%        


1. Have you ever experienced violence or harassment because of your alternative sexual practices?

36%   YES

If yes, what happened? (multiple responses allowed)

Verbal harassment  87%

Physical assault 

Stalked  19%

Property vandalized 

Blackmail  17%
Sexual harassment  13%


Other  7%

2. Have you ever experienced discrimination due to your alternative sexual practices?

30%   YES

If yes, what happened? (multiple responses allowed)

Persecution 40%

Loss of job or contract 

Loss of promotion  17%
Loss of custody of child  3%

Refused membership 

Unjustified arrest  5%
Other  36%

3. Did you press charges?

96%   NO

4. Do you freely tell others of your interest in alternative sexual expression?

72%   NO

If you're not out, why not?

Fear of disapproval  67%
Fear of repercussions  57%
Fear of persecution  34%
Fear of loss of child custody  13%
Other  16%


Only 28% of those surveyed were "out", while the vast majority don't tell other people about their sexual preferences. Some reported that "it's no one else's business," but many cited fear of job loss or child custody, or harming family relations. One respondent reported, "A formerly trusted confidant outed me to my family. As I am the primary care giver for my mother (Alzheimer's) my siblings feared that I would expose our mother to "dangerous characters". They considered making other arrangements for Mom's care and made me promise not to 'practice" my sexual preferences in our home."

Unfortunately, staying in the closet doesn't protect people - only one-third of those who suffered violence or discrimination reported that they are "out". The other two-thirds were minding their own business and keeping their mouths shut when they were either harassed or discriminated against.

Discrimination cuts very deep, in places we may not even realize. One respondent wrote, "My doctor called my desire for body modification 'sick'. Medical doctors have with held information of safe piercing practices from me because they consider all piercing to be 'self destructive', 'sick' and dangerous."

Other people are haunted by a fear of losing their jobs. Many who have answered the survey are educated professionals, and they can't afford to jeopardize their income. One University professor wrote, "We are very careful about outside appearance because of the fact that we live in a predominantly student section of town, where in fact several of my students live within shouting distance."

We also received a response from an ordained minister who has been involved in SM for several years. "I shared with my former roommate from seminary details about my lifestyle & interest. She took it upon herself to "save" me & report me to my superiors. I was up on a years leave of absence & required to participate in therapy."

There are many responses from people about being "ostracized... for getting mail that included SM/Leather/Fetish publications," or "harassed and threatened with being fired," or "laid off."

Of the violence that occurs against SM practitioners, there is an appalling amount of sexual abuse being perpetuated because someone believed they "deserved it". Many survey responses reported incidents of: "Simply; I was beaten up due to the jerk thinking that since I was submissive, that also meant free game to beat up and rape."

Despite the fact that 36% of the respondents reported being harassed or attacked because of their diverse sexual practices, 96% never reported the crime. Some of the reasons given were: "Didn't think authorities would believe me." "Chalked it up to ignorance & prejudice. "Wouldn't have been taken seriously." "Who would believe me?" "A waste of time."

NCSF hopes with the results from this survey, law enforcement officials will have to listen to the facts about violence taking place against people because of their interest in alternative sexual practices. NCSF hopes that media professionals will realize there are serious repercussions when SM and fetishes are sensationalized.


  • 645 hard surveys returned

  • 372 computer surveys returned

  • 1,017 total returned surveys

Respondents were actively encouraged to fill out the survey whether or not they had experienced discrimination or violence. Most of the survey questions were geared toward gaining demographic information on the SM-Leather-Fetish communities.

The computer survey form was posted on the NCSF website. Hyperlinks were sent through NCSF and other e-mail newsletters, and the URL was posted on various internet sites, bulletin boards, and chat rooms.

5,000 surveys were printed and distributed at dozens of meetings and events, including the following major community events:

  • Leather Leadership Conference, NYC, April 1998
  • IML, Chicago, May 1998
  • Folsom Street East, NYC, June 1998
  • IMsL, August 1998
  • Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco, September 1998
  • Living in Leather, Texas, October 1998
  • BR 98, DC, October 1998

The Member Organizations of NCSF mailed an additional 4,600 surveys directly to each of their members:

Member Organization
Society of Janus  700
GMSMA  1,100
The Eulenspiegel Society  1,100
NLA-I  400
Black Rose  300



Our legislators work for us. They want to know what we think about issues on the local, state, and national level. You can always write letters and should but actually meeting with your elected official is easier than you think.


Our legislators work for us. They want to know what we think about issues on the local, state, and national level. You can always write letters and should but actually meeting with your elected official is easier than you think.


What is a lobby visit?


A lobby visit is a meeting where you tell your elected representative what you think about a certain issue or bill. Whether it is a City Council Member or your Congressional Representative, as one of their constituents you can ask them to take action on an issue or legislation.

You can find the office of your local and national elected officials in your area. Some Members of Congress have more than one office in their congressional district, and permanent staff members are usually available for you to meet with.


Requesting Your Meeting


Make your request in writing and follow up with a call to the Appointment Secretary/Scheduler.


Suggest specific times and dates for your meeting


Let them know what issue or legislation you wish to discuss.


Make sure they know that you are a constituent.

    Prepare for Your Meeting


    Contact the NCSF to help you decide on your talking points, and get information that you can leave with your elected official.


    Decide who will attend the meeting. Bringing more than four or five people can be hard to manage


    Agree on talking points. Your goal is to make a strong case for your position, so don't disagree in the meeting. If a point is causing tension in the group, leave it out


    Plan out your meeting keeping in mind that time is limited. Decide who will start the conversation, and which points each person will make


    Decide what you want achieve. Do you want your elected official to vote for or against a bill? Do you want them to support your issue or oppose a restrictive ordinance? Ask them to do something specific.


    During the Meeting


    Be prompt and patient. Elected officials run on very tight schedules.


    Keep it short and focused. You will have twenty minutes or less with a staff person, and as little as ten minutes if you meet with your elected official. Stick to your talking points.


    Know your elected official's record on similar issues or legislation. Begin by thanking them for voting in support of your issues, and for taking the time to meet with you.


    Leave only a few pages of information that contain your main points. Include your contact information.


    Provide concise personal and local examples of the impact of the legislation or issue. This is the most important thing you can do in a lobby visit.


    You don't need all of the information on an issue. If you don't know the answer to a question, it is fine to tell the elected official that you will get that information. This gives you the chance to contact them again about the issue.


    Set deadlines for a response. You sometimes won't get a definitive answer at the meeting. Ask when you should check back in to find out what your elected official intends to do about your request. If you need to get information to them, set a date for when this will happen.

      After the Meeting


      Right after the meeting, compare notes with everyone in your group to confirm what the elected official committed to do and what follow up information you committed to send.


      One of you should promptly send a thank you letter for meeting with you.


      Follow up immediately with any requested materials and information.


      If the elected official or staff member doesn't meet the deadline for action you agreed to during the meeting, ask him or her to set another deadline. Be persistent, polite, and flexible.


      Let NCSF know what you learned during your meeting by e-mailing: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


      Meeting with your elected officials is the best way to demonstrate that there is a constituency for civil liberties in your district. It's easy to make a difference.




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      Published in Activist Resources
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      Consent Counts

      Consent Counts

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      In the News

      In the News

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        NCSF’s Coalition Partners Join Together for Consent Summit   The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom held its annual Coalition Partner meeting in Phoenix, Arizona from February 8-10, 2013. The Consent Summit took place Friday evening, and Coalition Partners were able to participate via streaming video to give their input on the new Consent Statement. Go to to see the Consent Statement and comment on it.   “The Consent Statement…

        Tags: Consent_Counts
      • NCSF Survey on Consent

        FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE National Coalition for Sexual Freedom NCSF Survey on Consent The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) wants to hear from you! Please take our Consent Counts survey and tell us what you think about consent: As part of decriminalizing BDSM in the legal codes, we need to be able to articulate a clear definition of consent that the BDSM communities believe in. The results of this…

        Tags: Survey Consent Counts consent fetlife
      • NCSF Launches the Next Chapter for Consent Counts

        NCSF Launches the Next Chapter for Consent Counts February 27, 2012 The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) announces two new publications as part of its nationwide campaign, Consent Counts. The Consent Counts Project was launched by the BDSM-leather-fetish communities in 2006 to decriminalize consensual BDSM in U.S. law by ensuring that consent will be recognized as a defense to criminal charges brought under assault laws and other statutes. "For…

        Tags: Consent_Counts Press Release consent
      • Action Alert - Take Action Californians!

        Our BDSM communities could be adversely impacted by a well-intentioned, but overly broad, piece of proposed criminal legislation that has been introduced by Senator Christine Kehoe in the California Senate.  NCSF is asking all of you to sign and send to NCSF letters (a draft is attached below) that we can introduce if necessary at a hearing likely to be held in April, 2011. The purpose of the bill, SB…

        Tags: Consent Counts action alerts california SB 430
      • NCSF Press Release - Missouri Indictment

        In an indictment rendered by a Grand Jury in the Western District of Missouri on September 9, 2010, five Missouri men allegedly participated in torturing a mentally disabled woman online or in person over a multi-year period when the victim was between the ages of 16 and 24. Among the charges are: Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud or Coercion, Forced Labor Trafficking, Transportation for Sexual Activity, and Conspiracy. The allegations…

        Tags: Consent_Counts SSC Press Release Indictments
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      Consent Counts: We're Making a Difference

      • Completed Federal and State Legal Research
      • Developed Educational Programs and Outreach Materials
      • Built Alliances With Sexual Freedom Advocacy Groups

      About Consent Counts

      NCSF is leading a major national campaign—Consent Counts—to change the laws and police practices that our communities now endure, and to establish that consent is available as a defense in criminal BDSM prosecutions.

      • BDSM is prosecuted as assault in the U.S., even when it is consensual.
      • No state or appellate court has allowed consent as a defense to assault in BDSM cases.
      • Consent Counts is a nationwide project to decriminalize consensual BDSM.
      Program Goals:
      Consent Counts
      is a nationwide project to decriminalize consensual BDSM through education, advocacy, legal actions and lobbying.


      Judy Guerin
      Director, Consent Counts 
      Help us reach more communities