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MAKE A KINK AWARE PROFESSIONAL LISTING
 
 
 
  
Published in Uncategorized

In 2009, 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 482 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contacted NCSF for help in 2009. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but some evolved into much larger projects.

NCSF received 482 distinct inquiries/requests for assistance. 337 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.

  • 11% were requests regarding SM/abuse/domestic violence issues
  • 36% were regarding criminal complaint issues
  • 3% were regarding employment discrimination
  • 27.5% were regarding child custody/divorce issues
  • 17.5% were related to SM/leather/fetish group issues
  • 1% were classed as non-employment discrimination
  • 3% were related to swing community issues
  • .5% were regarding online obscenity issues
  • 3.5% were classed as “other”

 

Of the inquires:

  • 95.5% were driven by SM/leather/fetish issues
  • 3% by swing
  • 1% by poly
  • 0.5% by other

2009 saw an increased number of requests around criminal and domestic violence or SM/abuse related issues. NCSF worked with more than 46 attorneys representing defendants in criminal cases. In addition, we worked with more than 14 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. Our Consent Counts project hopes to address some of these issues. There is a great need for educational within our own communities regarding consent  and a great need for change in laws related to consensual adult sexual expression.

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. In addition, NCSF has implemented new criteria for incident response. The document outlining the changes is included in the packet.

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.  We have developed new workshops / FAQs for parents dealing with custody/divorce and child protective services.

NCSF’s implementation of SaleForce will help us manage our Incident Response requests in a significantly more professional and consistent way. It will provide for direct access by someone needing help through a new customer service portal and it will allow NCSF staff/volunteers to track and log all calls and action on any given request.

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 www.ncsfreedom.org. 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!

NCSF Publishes Important Information for Your Mental Health; NCSF and the Foundation are proud to announce two new and valuable publications: A Guide to Choosing a Kink-Aware Therapist, and the Therapists Guide to Polyamory.

The BDSM Survey is up. Take a look!

If you are seeking a Kink Aware Professional (KAP).
Our KAP program allows professionals who are friendly to BDSM, swing, and poly individuals to list themselves as "kink friendly." It serves as a resource for people to self-refer for help from theraputic, legal and other professionals who will not prejudge based on the consensual adult activities of our constituents. We've recently added documents for "How to Choose a Kink Aware Therapist" in long and short form as well as a booklet geared for those in the theraputic community that focuses on poly issues. 

If you are seeking assistance or our Incident Response Program
Criteria for acceptance include consideration of whether a significant issue relevant to NCSF's primary constituencies is at stake, what  impact can be realized for our constituents as a whole if NCSF gets involved, and whether existing resources allow for a case to be handled effectively.

Published in Tabs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

National Coalition for Sexual Freedom

 

 

Marching Forward: NCSF proactively advocates for sexual freedom

 

November 19, 2008 - NCSF is proud to be the only group in the country with a national mission committed to changing the political, legal and social environment for those involved with the BDSM, swing and polyamory communities. The new board of NCSF was voted in at the annual Coalition Partner meeting held in Atlanta in September: Leigha Fleming is the new Chairwoman of NCSF, and new board members Laura

Carlson (Secretary), Klawdya Rothschild, Tim Murray, and Ron Zimmerman have joined existing board members Vivienne Kramer (Treasurer), Jim Duvall, Jim Fleckenstein, and Howie Zusel.

 

NCSF has directly helped tens of thousands of practitioners, businesses and groups since its founding in 1997. NCSF's newest project is the DSM Revision Project: Kinky is NOT a Diagnosis! The DSM Revision Petition is gathering signatures from individuals and organizations calling on the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to adhere to empirical research when revising the diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Susan Wright is working directly with the DSM revision committee to ensure that healthy BDSM practitioners and cross-dressers are not misdiagnosed under the DSM criteria.

 

 

Incident Response
NCSF
's Incident Response team is directed by Leigha Fleming ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). Over 600 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contact NCSF for help every year because of persecution or discrimination. This year NCSF assisted both Folsom Street Fair with media relations, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Creating Change conference when they were attacked for presenting Guy Baldwin with a "Leather Leadership Award". This continues our practice of fighting religious political extremists and performing outreach to local communities and authorities.

 

 

Media Outreach Project
NCSF
's Media Outreach Program provides sound bites, media statements and proven tactics for anyone speaking to the media about sexual freedom issues. Spokesperson Susan Wright ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) regularly gives media trainings and conducts over 60 interviews every year, influencing the coverage of alternative sexuality in the mainstream media. The NCSF Media Updates feature articles about BDSM, swinging and polyamory, and provides contact information to write letters to the editor in order to influence how editorial decisions are made in the future.

 

 

Kink Aware Professionals (KAP)
NCSF's Kink Aware Professionals (KAP) free referral list was started by Race Bannon who gave NCSF custody of the list in 2006. James Huesmann ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is currently the director for the KAP program. Please request NCSF's KAP brochure for your members. NCSF actively recruits psychotherapeutic, medical, and legal professionals nationwide for this list, ensuring that community members can access professionals who are knowledgeable about and sensitive to diverse expressions of sexuality.

 

 

Legal Committee
NCSF
's Legal Advocacy team is led by John ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), with pro bono lawyers researching current laws and creating Amicus Briefs to submit to courts in cases involving obscenity prosecutions, "consent is not a defense to assault", and right to freedom of assembly. NCSF's Communications Decency Act lawsuit with Barbara Nitke made history by challenging the Miller standard of obscenity as it applies to the Internet.

 

 

Education Outreach Program
The Education Outreach Program (EOP) is run under the Institute for 21st Century Relationships by The Foundation of
NCSF. ITCR supports the freedom of consenting adults to discover and to practice the intimate relationship structure that best meets their emotional and human needs. The EOP educates law enforcement officials, and our constituents about the risks of selective enforcement and how to minimize the risk of becoming a target. NCSF has published a number of pieces of literature for this program and has trained a team of individuals from across the country to deliver 10 educational presentations from "Traveling With Toys" to "How to Protect Your Event."

 

 

Networking
For over a decade,
NCSF has formed valuable alliances with other advocacy organizations to work on projects that defend sexual freedom rights: Free Speech Coalition, the ACLU, American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance, among others. Susan Wright is on the Advocacy Committee of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists.

 

NCSF is a member of the organizing committee for the Sex Positive Journalism Awards, along with journalist Miriam Axel-Lute and activists from The Center for Sex & Culture. The first award ceremony for the Sexies was held in New York City on October 4, 2008 (www.sexies.org). NCSF also participates in

 

Consent Counts, a group formed at Creating Change 2007 to take on the work of decriminalizing Leather/kink/fetish/BDSM consensual adult behavior (www.consentcounts.org).

 

Membership
Currently NCSF has 56 Coalition Partners who elect the board and establish the yearly goals at the annual Coalition Partner meeting. Coalition Partners are groups and businesses that serve BDSM, swing and polyamory practitioners. NCSF also has nearly 100 Supporting Members - groups and businesses who actively support NCSF - totaling tens of thousands of members. You can also become an individual member for $25, which goes directly to supporting NCSF programs and projects.

 

 

Donate!
Aside from part-time Office Manager Levi Halberstadt ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), the staff of
NCSF consists of dozens of volunteers around the country. Every dollar that is donated to NCSF and ITCR goes to directly serving the alt sex communities. All donations to ITCR-NCSF are tax deductible.

 

In the past decade, alternative sexual expression has become much more visible to the general public, bringing about an increasing number of attacks. The success of this fight depends on your support. You can become an individual member of NCSF, volunteer to join the NCSF staff, make a donation to NCSF, initiate or help out at a fund-raiser for NCSF, and encourage your group to become a Coalition Partner of NCSF. Every step you take helps us further the sexual freedom movement!

 

Check out these exciting projects on the NCSF website at: www.ncsfreedom.org

 

A joint Project of NCSF and ITCR: The Foundation of NCSF

Published in Press Releases

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 www.ncsfreedom.org. 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

NCSF Supports Your Rights

In 2005, 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 700 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contacted NCSF for help in 2005. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but some evolved into much larger projects.
 
NCSF received 726 distinct inquiries/requests for assistance. 327 required more than one contact/response to resolve, often requiring multiple contacts.
  • 31% were requests for referrals (criminal, divorce, custody, zoning, etc…)
  • 18% were requests for NCSF support regarding group/club/business formations
  • 15% were custody/divorce related
  • 9% were media driven/press related issues
  • 9% were employment discrimination
  • 7% were regarding harassment/domestic violence assistance
  • 7% were other/misc.
  • 4% were criminal in nature
Of the inquires NCSF received:
  • 58% were driven by SM/leather/fetish issues
  • 22% by poly
  • 17% by swing
  • 3% by other

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.

2005 saw an increased number of requests around criminal and employment issues. NCSF worked with more than 2 dozen attorneys representing defendants in criminal cases. 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 largest category of requests were for referrals. NCSF's addition of the KAP resource should in time lower the number of requests for referrals that need to be handled by a person since we’ll be able to refer people to the KAP database. It will be extremely helpful to us to be able to set up some kind of system or way to track the where/why/who of the users of the KAP database.

The next largest group of requests for assistance came from groups, businesses, and other support organizations who wanted 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.
 
The next group of requests for assistance involved 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 August 2006, more than 465 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 visit our website on www.ncsfreedom.org or call our office at 410-539-4824. If you have a media-related incident, you can call 917-848-6544. To find a lawyer, psychotherapist, or doctor who is kink friendly, go to: www.ncsfreedom.org/kap
 
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!

Overview: NCSF Supports Your Rights!

In 2002, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) once 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 29 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 Leigha Fleming, who instituted new methods for tabulating responses in 2002. In total, nearly 600 contacts were made between NCSF and individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses who requested assistance. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but many evolved into much larger projects such as the series of attacks by religious political extremists against SM conferences in the midwest.

In 41% of the incidents, NCSF assisted individuals. The largest category of incidents involved 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. Individuals also consulted with NCSF on a variety of other issues, including: the legality of obscene materials, guidelines for posting sexually frank information on websites, the law regarding private parties, and dealing with personal media exposure.

In 2002, NCSF also opposed zoning and other local regulatory measures against those who practice some form of alternative sexual expression. NCSF assisted the swing communities in Florida and Phoenix by holding open-forum discussions about how to affect zoning regulations and current litigation against lifestyle clubs. NCSF also worked with the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance (GLAA) to lobby against the Washington DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control regulation 905, which has been used to prohibit SM play in local establishments with liquor licenses even when liquor isn't being sold or consumed.

Conventions

From February to May 2002, five SM conventions were targeted by Concerned Women for America, American Family Association, and the American Decency Association. NCSF worked with each event to counter sensationalized attacks in the media as well as resisting action by local authorities who attempted to shut down these SM conferences. The attacks took place in the midwest: My Vicious Valentine and International Mr. Leather in Chicago, Bound by Desire in Michigan, Tribal Fire in Oklahoma, and Beat Me in St. Louis in Missouri.

In April, Missouri State Senator John Loudon introduced a resolution to prohibit SM conferences from being held in that state. NCSF educated the Missouri State Attorney General about the educational benefits of SM conferences, and the state health department sent an observer who confirmed that all activities were safe, sane and consensual. Beat Me in St. Louis was held exactly as planned.

With two of these SM conferences, the host hotels canceled their contracts. However both conferences were able to re-locate to new host hotels. Cendant Corporation, the world's largest hotel franchiser with more than 6,400 hotels, bowed to pressure from religious political extremist groups and threatened its franchisees with reprisal if they booked "controversial" guests or groups that "national interest groups find offensive." NCSF conducted a successful media and write-in campaign that convinced Cendant Corporation to clarify its position, honoring the right of hotel franchisees to host the events of their choice.

Clubs

In 2002, there were several police raids against alternative sexual expression clubs, including a raid that resulted in the closure of Behind the Scenes, an SM club in Philadelphia, PA. In July, a raid against Club Zinc, a swing club in Atlanta, GA, resulted in the arrest of patrons who consulted with NCSF. Another lifestyle club in Connecticut was raided and closed in June because they were improperly located in a residential neighborhood. In Phoenix, AZ, NCSF worked with several swing clubs that continue to be threatened with closure because of overly-restrictive zoning laws.

Media Incidents

Spokesperson Susan Wright gave 81 interviews with the media in 2002 including print, radio and television interviews on national shows such as The O'Reilly Factor. Incidents such as the CWA attacks against SM conferences required extensive media contacts. In addition, the trial and conviction of serial killer John Robinson in Kansas City necessitated media work because Robinson met several of his victims in SM chat rooms. The witness who reported Robinson's theft of her toys to the police, resulting in Robinson's arrest, consulted with NCSF prior to her appearance in the trial.

The SM community rallied when Jack McGeorge's participation as a UN Weapons Inspector in Iraq was questioned by the Washington Post in a series of SM-negative articles. It was suggested that McGeorge should be dismissed from the UN weapons team because, among other things, McGeorge is a former Chairman of NCSF. Community members sent dozens of "Letters to the Editor" to the Washington Post, NY Daily News, CNN, and Fox News protesting the attacks against McGeorge, who received support from Hans Blix and remained on duty as a Weapons Inspector.

Clubs regularly contact NCSF to receive media training for incidents or events. In one media incident, a nonprofit club in Muncie, Indiana, was threatened with closure along with a nearby strip bar until the media was educated about safe, sane and consensual SM. NCSF also gave media assistance to a swing club in Connecticut which was closed because of zoning issues.

Discrimination

Job discrimination continues to be a problem for individuals. NCSF helped more than a dozen people draft and file formal complaints with their employers regarding employment discrimination claims. One Tennessee man lost his job because he belonged to a leather club. NCSF referred a Texas man to the EEOC because of racial discrimination. A California woman contacted NCSF when a job offer was withdrawn when her personal website was discovered. Another woman was dismissed from a private Catholic university because of her private sexual expression.

Discrimination complaints were also made about two Internet companies in 2002. In July, E-bay pulled all of its SM-related material for sale, while Match.com deleted a therapist's ad because it mentioned their poly therapy practice.

Criminal Cases

NCSF was contacted by individuals, attorneys and prosecutors on a variety of criminal cases, including: an exhibitionist arrested for public exposure, prostitution and obscenity charges against a pro-domme, and one individual cited for carrying SM toys in their car. NCSF also made referrals to resources and the appropriate authorities in several domestic violence incidents. In one case, a protective order was obtained.

In September, NCSF assisted in a behavioral forensic investigation concerning the alleged kidnapping of a Vancouver, Washington, man who was involved in master/slave relationship. NCSF worked with both prosecution and defense. The result was the dismissal of the unfounded charges of kidnapping and assault.

NCSF On the Front Lines

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 visit our website on www.ncsfreedom.org or call our office at 410-539-4824.

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

These procedures are intended to guide NCSF staff member(s) who are assigned to individuals and/or a local community to assist after an incident. Incidents in relation to this program are defined as "negative encounters with law enforcement and/or other authorities". Since incidents can vary from a raid on a party with one or more arrests, to attacks on local groups or clubs, these procedures are meant only as a guide.

After an initial assessment, NCSF may offer assistance to the persons directly involved and/or the SM-Leather-Fetish or swing groups involved, or impacted by, the incident. Both the persons and the groups involved may, or may not, elect to receive some or all of the assistance offered by the NCSF.

Regardless, it is up to the local community to decide whether to rally around individual(s) who have been arrested, and to determine if it is the community's responsibility to help prevent the establishment of bad case law that will affect SM or swing practitioners in the future. The community needs to keep in mind that while they are supporting those who are arrested, they must also educate officials in order to prevent the same crisis from happening in the future.

It is the NCSF staff member's initial responsibility to offer the assistance options to the involved persons and the local community.

Incident Reporting & Response Team

Advisors

NCSF has a group of volunteers who are members of the Incident Reporting & Response Team. These volunteers have either been trained for a position on this team, or have special skills and abilities that strengthen the team. NCSF staff members on the Incident Reporting & Response Team may be involved in incidents in an advisory capacity only. NCSF is not a legal defense fund, nor does it take a voting position on the boards of legal defense funds. If an NCSF staff member lives in the local area and would like to participate on a legal defense fund or community response group, then he/she cannot be an official advisor on the NCSF Incident Response Team for that incident.

Number of Advisors
A minimum of two trained NCSF Incident Reporting & Response Team members will take on roles of Advisors for each Incident. Any community discussion, e-lists, or correspondence concerning the incident, no matter how trivial, should get copied to the two designated NCSF Advisors.

Phase 1: Incident Assessment

Initially, the NCSF staff directed to conduct the assessment must evaluate the incident and those involved in order for NCSF to determine the extent of our potential involvement. Depending on the circumstances, this assessment may be onsite or it may be via phone/email interviews. A summary of the incident should be prepared to include answers to these questions:

  • What is the exact charge?
  • Could this violation have been prevented?
  • If it is a business, did it have a license?
  • Do the victims have prior arrests?
  • Were there children on the premises?
  • Was alcohol involved?

Send the incident summary to the Director of Constituency Services. A decision must then be made as to whether the incident falls within the scope of the mission of the NCSF Incident Response Team

Phase 2: Initial Response

Assignment of Advisors
The
NCSF Coordinator shall assign two Advisors to the incident.

Officer of Assistance
Only after the Director of Constituency Services has approved an official
NCSF response can an official NCSF offer of assistance be made. The Director may determine which of the assistance possibilities will be offered.

Types of Assistance
The
NCSF can offer a number of things to assist during and after an incident. In general, these are: Advice on Organizing the Local Community and Creating Strategy for Their Response. This involves numerous possibilities as discussed in detail later.

Media Assistance
Media Assistance includes obtaining recognized national spokespersons and providing accurate information about SM-Leather practices for the media. This is also discussed later.

Education of Local Law Enforcement / Authorities
Typically this is a post-incident effort to educate authorities in an effort to establish future positive interaction.

Updates
In an effort to keep the
NCSF staff current on the status of the incident, internal NCSF updates from the advisors should be made to the appropriate internal NCSF email lists on a regular basis. Preferably, weekly updates during the heat of the incident, and monthly updates once things slow down. These should be labelled as confidential.

Victim's Veto
It is
NCSF's recommendation that any community response take into account the advice of the victim's lawyers regarding sensitive material such as: media interaction, FAQ, website content, and demonstrations. The victims should have veto power over these activities, and should be considered Advisors to any community response group. They are encouraged to attend the meetings held by the community response group. Some victims will want to set up their own response organization, such as the San Diego Six. However, these types of organizations that are run directly by the principles in the case shouldn't be confused with community response groups. In addition it should be noted that if NCSF is involved, the mission and objectives of NCSF as a whole do play a part in determining what the NCSF response is.

Phase 3: Organizing the Community

Prior to Arrival
The Incident Reporting & Response Team should make contact with as many state and local leaders and activists prior to their arrival. An open meeting should be set up to discuss the incident and possible community response.

First Community Meeting
An announcement should be made via an open letter sent to various e-lists, with the time, date and place of the meeting provided. The information in this Incident Response Procedures may be used to structure the meeting agenda. It's best if press aren't allowed at this initial community meeting. Instead, offer a special press meeting after the community meeting (sometimes you can't get rid of reporters, so just let them stay). Prior to every meeting ask whether any member of the press is present, and make sure to announce that everything said during the meeting is off-the-record. Allow individuals to vent and ask questions at this community meeting.

Establish an Ad Hoc Group
In the absence of a existing community coalition, this initial meeting can serve as the basis for forming a community response group. The types of community response we've seen so far take on aspects of both legal defense funds and/or activist groups. The most successful type of structure is the ad hoc grassroots model. Thus, anyone who is interested can come to meetings and have a voice in how things are run. Volunteers for tasks can come from this pool. It is time-consuming and unnecessary to try to incorporate this type of group in the heat of a crises.

Volunteer Positions
The ad hoc approach requires that volunteers agree to take on permanent positions:

  • Treasurer - The Treasurer keeps the books and arranges for a Doing Business as (DBA) account under the tax id number of a local SM-Leather-Fetish group.

  • Media Spokesperson - The Media Spokesperson can be trained by NCSF, and sticks to sound bites that are approved by the community ad hoc group.

  • Meeting Coordinator / Moderator - The Meeting Coordinator makes sure the time and place for the meeting is arranged, draws up the agenda items, and submits announcements to the e-lists for decimation. The Meeting Coordinator can also be the Moderator, who makes sure that the meeting runs smoothly.

  • Webmaster - The Webmaster sets up and edits the web page on an ongoing basis, and helps set up the communications e-list to be used by the ad hoc group.

  • Volunteers can take on temporary positions related to fund raising events, ie. party chair, volunteer organizer, raffle coordinator, etc.

Goals
This ad hoc community response group is intended to unite the local community around their response to the incident. This community response group could have as its goals: communication with the SM-Leather-Fetish community about the incident, media response, and fund raising. This group could also engage in activist functions such as promoting letter-writing campaigns, calling out the locals to appear at certain events, demonstrations, and forming coalitions with other local groups in support of their goals. Outreach should be done to all parts of the SM-Leather-Fetish communities: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and heterosexual groups should receive the notices and all are encouraged to participate.

Specific Suggestions:

  • Name the group something other than the event or name that was cited. This makes it easier for the group to do media outreach without being confused as synonymous with the defendants.

  • Meetings should take place at a scheduled time and place. (ie. first and third Monday of the month at p.m.)

  • Meetings are announced at least a week in advance with current Agenda Items.

  • To place an item on the agenda, it must be submitted to the email list at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting.

  • After the first two meetings, people must attend two meetings before getting a vote.

  • Time limits can be placed on how long each individual can speak on each agenda item.

  • A treasury statement is provided at every meeting.

  • Establish agreed-upon meeting rules such as: Don't blame others; Wait until acknowledged by the moderator before speaking

This ad hoc approach has several advantages:

  • It will serve to unite disparate members of the local community when all are welcome to participate.

  • The volunteer pool will be much larger because people are more willing to take on tasks if they have a vote on what happens.

  • Your knowledge base is wider if you include more people.

  • There will be more accountability and less credibility issues of "what's happening with the money?" if everyone can show up and participate in meetings.

If a formal committee is created with a board/officers designed to be incorporated, then NCSF recommends that neither the victims nor their significant others should be on this board. The victims are busy working on their legal defense and don't need the added stress of trying to organize community fund raising events.

Important Affiliations and Attorneys

ACLU
Contact the state ACLU and inform them of this case. Often, they will have heard from media reports and will be responding to media inquiries. Contact Judy, Susan or Mindy if you need help getting through to the ACLU. Get the ACLU's recommendation for a reputable lawyer who can take on this case. Ask the ACLU if they will get involved, and get an official statement from them that can be included in press releases.

State LGBT Organization
Contact the state gay and lesbian legal group and inform them of this case. Get their recommendation for a reputable lawyer who can take this case. Ask them if they will get involved, and get an official statement from them that can be included in press releases.

NCSF Assistance
NCSF can help by using Nexis/Lexis and Westlaw to look up what kinds of cases the lawyer and their firm have been involved in the past. The immediate problem will be money to give for a retainer. Sometimes lawyers will take a fraction of the total amount and will wait until money is raised for the balance. However, they will want to know about plans for fund raising and the history of successful fund raising in our community. Donations to legal defense funds are not tax deductible.

Outreach

FAQ
Get the facts out to the SM-Leather-Fetish or swing communities - within 48 hours is best. Help the local volunteers create a short FAQ that answers the basic questions: who, what, where, when, why and how we're dealing with it. Let people know up front if this is a business, for-profit or non-profit, private or public event, etc. Send this FAQ to as many e-lists as you can. Designate an official point of contact for questions and offers of assistance. Add to the FAQ as needed.

Time Line
When anything happens, whether it's a court date or an ad hoc meeting, add it to your time line. That way anyone can go to the website and see at the top of the page the most recent thing that's happened with the case.

Media
When talking to the media, keep in mind that it is good legal sense to not discuss the particulars of the case. Sound-bites should be determined by the community response group (
NCSF can provide basic sound-bites to be adapted to each case). It's great if other activists wish to speak to the media, but they are advised to not speak about the particulars of the case (NCSF can provide national media contacts). NCSF should also contact GLAAD to get their opinion/help on the case. The community needs to be warned that chat rooms are considered "public" and that anything said in chat rooms could appear in the newspapers with attribution to the screen name it was posted under. None of the NCSF staff should disseminate rumors, facts about the case or opinions about the case.

Political Climate
NCSF will give guidance on analyzing the political climate and key officials. NCSF will also give advice on tactics and formulating a strategy on how to respond to incidents. This strategy will take into account that certain officials are elected, like the DA, the Mayor and the City Council members. The community response must consider whether it is an election year, or if there is a way that community pressure can be brought to bear on these officials.

Letter writing campaigns work very well, and NCSF can provide samples that can be tailored to each case. For example, in Baltimore, sample letters were provided for people who were out, not out, local or non-local. 150 letters in all were sent, tipping the scales in favor of the SM-Leather-Fetish community.

NCSF can also assist in arranging meetings and educating key officials. Usually this is done with the consent of the victims on the advice of their lawyer. However, the community has the right to know whether local officials intend to crack down on consensual SM or swing activities, and NCSF can help discuss this in a general way (without going into the particulars of the case).

Post-Incident

It's good to have some idea of where the ad hoc community response group is heading once the crisis is over. The community may decide that the ad hoc group will disband after the crises is over. NCSF encourages communities to continue with their activist coalition in order to make changes in local laws and attitudes. Planning for the future is particularly important if there is fund raising, so people who donate will know where their money will go if the case is settled. Does the community want to establish an incorporated legal defense fund? Does the community want to continue doing SM and swing activism to fight repressive laws and policy? Does the community want to donate the extra money to a local or national charity? If so, to who? Remember that the choice of this charity may affect whether people across the country want to donate to your cause.

 

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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.
 
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Consent Counts
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