The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom is proud to introduce a new range of educational materials and programs as part of its nationwide “Consent Counts Project.” This Consent Counts Library now includes:
·A comprehensive paper on Consent and BDSM: The State of the Law
·NCSF’s Statement on Power Exchange Relationships
·1-page summary of NCSF’s Consent Statement
·Criminal Prosecution of Consensual BDSM—a Continuing Legal Education program that will be presented around the country beginning in 2014, and
·A series of educational programs featuring well-known sexual freedom activists.
Go to: https://ncsfreedom.org/key-programs/consent-counts/consent-counts.html
Consent and BDSM:The State of the Law is a detailed examination of how BDSM activity, even where clearly consensual, is prosecuted under state criminal laws dealing with assault, aggravated assault, sexual assault or sexual abuse. According to the law, the nature of the criminal offense is that one person causes physical harm—injury and/or intense pain—to another person. It is important to understand that the law sees this as causing harm, not engaging in mutually beneficial conduct. This means that the law treats BDSM as violence, not as sex. Challenging this legal interpretation is the goal of the Consent Counts Project.
In the Statement on Power Exchange Relationships, NCSF supports the rights of adults to enter into the full range of consensual power exchange relationships including: Master/slave, Total Power Exchange (TPE), 24/7 and Owner/property. This NCSF statement discusses both the ethical and legal concepts that are critical to understanding the meaning and importance of consent in power exchange relationships. From Jack McGeorge, the first Chairman of NCSF, to Kevin Carlson, the current Chairman, NCSF has benefited from the involvement of many volunteers who are in power exchange relationships. NCSF has directly helped thousands of people—including those in power exchange relationships—with job discrimination, child custody battles, criminal courts, victim services, and media intervention.
The 1-page Summary of NCSF’s Policy Statement on Consent is condensed version of the community-wide statement developed over many years through a series of surveys and group discussions held throughout the United States.
NCSF’s new Continuing Legal Education program is entitled: Criminal Prosecution of BDSM:Civil Liberties Collide with Morality-Based Judicial Decisions. This CLE addresses the legal and policy—not moral or political—issues raised by the criminal prosecution of consensual BDSM, principally under assault statutes, but also under criminal laws concerning trafficking, battery and sexual/spousal relationship abuse. In such prosecutions, every appellate court that has addressed the issue has found that consent is not allowed as a defense.
A series of programs featuring well-known sexual freedom activists are being scheduled around the country. The first such program, BDSM?Erotic Play? What Are The Legal Risks?, was presented in Chicago on October 19th and will be available on the NCSF YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/ncsfreedom. 2014 dates are being scheduled for presentations in Boston, Nashville, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, South Florida, New York City and Washington, DC.
In addition to the Library, NCSF continues to pursue a range of activities in support of the Consent Counts Project, including:
·Supporting an ongoing Needs Assessment Survey: Intimate Partner Abuse Among Practitioners of BDSM/Leather/Kink Lifestyles, to gather information regarding the quality of experiences had by those who sought help from domestic violence service providers, or those who wanted to seek help, but did not do so.
·NCSF is creating a survey on Consent Violations that will be released soon. Watch for it!
Where: Leather Archives & Museum 6418 N. Greenview Avenue Chicago, IL 60626
When: Saturday, October 19th from 2:30-5 p.m.
followed by a wine and cheese reception for the benefit of LA&M and NCSF from 5-7 p.m.
Presentation is free of charge.
Wine and cheese reception has a suggested donation of $20 and is open to the public.
You and your BDSM partner may be having a great time, but you need to know about the legal risks. Join NCSF and legal experts for an overview of issues related to federal and state laws used to prosecute consensual BDSM criminally. This interactive discussion will review pertinent state and federal laws that are used against BDSM practitioners and the current state of the law. NCSF will discuss its Consent Counts program to decriminalize consensual BDSM and the group will discuss the issue of consent and give NCSF input.
Please RSVP to Judy Guerin at
Judge Rudolph A. Serra was appointed to the 36th District Court by Governor Jennifer Granholm on June 29, 2004. Judge Serra has a Bachelor's Degree with a double major in Psychology and Communication (with Honors) and a Master's Degree in Communication, as well as a Doctorate in Law. Judge Serra is a former school board member, a former County Commissioner and a former Human Rights Commissioner for the City of Detroit. He was selected as a Michigan "Lawyer of the Year" for 2000, and received the Rev. Martin L. King Jr. Freedom Award in 2001.
Judge Serra served as a Referee for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and was a member of the State Bar of Michigan Open Justice Commission. He wrote the Civil Rights survey for The Wayne State University Law Review (published in 2005) and co-authored Chapter 3 of the latest edition of Michigan Family Law. His writing had been published by The Journal of Psychology and Christianity and by The Journal of Intergroup Relations (National Association of Human Rights Workers). Judge Serra's book, "Bag A Fag" (published by the Triangle Foundation), is recognized as one of the most authoritative sources of information about anti-gay police misconduct.
Richard O. Cunningham, B.S., M.A., J.D., has advocated for over 30 years on issues of gender, race and sex. He has played a leading role in landmark legal cases, including being the supervising attorney on the U.S. Supreme Court case to allow women in military academies and the initiating attorney for the lawsuit during the Vietnam War that resulted in the “Fairness Doctrine” to require balanced media coverage of political issues. He is senior international trade partner at Steptoe & Johnson, LLP in Washington, D.C. He is the former Chair of the Boards of the NCSF Foundation and the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. Dick is currently advising on legal and policy aspects of NCSF’s Consent Counts Project.
Judy Guerin is a well-known activist, writer, speaker and educator on issues of sexual freedom and gender expression. She is also a long-time practitioner of BDSM and sex educator on BDSM activities. She is a former board member of GenderPAC, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation and Forum 21. She is a former steering committee member of the National Policy Roundtable of GLBTQ/HIV groups, former executive director of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom and advisor to the European Union Human Rights Commission on issues of sexual freedom and GLBTQ issues. She currently directs NCSF’s Consent Counts Project to decriminalize consensual BDSM in the U.S.
Unitarian Universalism lays claim to a heritage as an open and affirming faith movement, one that “speaks the truth in love.”Certainly this has been the case with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues, being the first mainstream religious denomination to advocate for GLBT rights, and a preeminent leader for marriage equality.
For kink-oriented UUs, however, ours has been a different experience.Despite increased mainstream media attention around BDSM, despite being told how many UUs have faced discrimination and marginalization for real or assumed kink identity*, despite being provided specific recommendations to be implemented, UUA leaders seem unable to bring themselves to openly address these issues or even acknowledge our existence.We call on the UUA Leadership Council to recognize kink orientation as a reality of human diversity, and an essential part of our identity.
To bring greater awareness to these issues, and to underscore the continued silence of Unitarian Universalist leaders, the Steering Committee of Leather & Grace is calling for people to engage in silent witness at UU congregations across the continent on Sunday, September 29th, 2013.
The Covenant for Silent Sunday:
Those bearing silent witness shall refrain from speaking or singing during worship and other congregational activities; they may communicate by writing and gestures.
Witnesses are expected to identify themselves to others in the congregation, and to explain the reasons behind Silent Sunday; Leather & Grace shall make materials available towards this end.
Witnesses are expected not to disrupt worship or other congregational activities during Silent Sunday, and to treat all people with respect and compassion.
Ministers preaching on this day are asked to acknowledge silent witnesses in attendance, and the reasons behind Silent Sunday.
For more information, please click on the main Silent Sunday page on L&G's website:
All interested individuals who are involved in BDSM/Leather/Kink lifestyles are invited to participate in a survey about intimate partner abuse.The purpose of this survey is to gather information regarding the quality of experiences had by those who sought help from domestic violence service providers, or those who wanted to seek help, but did not do so. The overall goal is to help service providers and outreach educators improve the quality of information, responses and interventions regarding the unique needs and experiences of individuals who live a BDSM, Leather or kinky lifestyle.
You are invited to take the survey whether or not you have been involved in an abusive relationship because the survey will collect basic demographic information about those who engage in BDSM, Leather and/or kink, as well.
The survey will take approximately 25-35 minutes to complete.
Please respond no later than January 31, 2014.
Your participation is voluntary.All responses are anonymous.However, there is potential risk of loss of confidentiality in all email, downloading and internet transactions.The final results of this study will be used for research and may also be published in a summary format in a peer-reviewed journal.
If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Elizabeth Fawcett, Ph.D., M.P.H., at
.This study has been reviewed according to accepted Institutional Review Board (IRB) procedures for research involving human subjects, and approved.If you have questions about the rights of research participants or the way this study is being conducted, you may contact Texas Woman’s University Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at 940-898-3378 or via email at
When It Is Abuse
by Elizabeth Fawcett, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Trust has been lost; consent has been revoked; the relationship has become threatening; you face real danger and possible harm.It’s not the “lifestyle”—it’s this relationship—and you need help. Where do you turn?
What happens when kinky folks seek help from publically available domestic violence services to deal with a relationship that may have become abusive?Are the unique circumstances of those who engage in relationships with negotiated power exchange dynamics such as BDSM, Leather or kink, understood and treated with sensitivity and respect by service providers?
“When I called the police, they said it was my fault because I consented.”
“The people who worked at the shelter talked openly about my D/s relationship, and it got back to my kids.They didn’t know! My children were bullied by other children at the shelter because of it.”
“Every time we had a disagreement, my partner threatened to call the police and tell them I beat him. But he asked me to! Who am I going to ask for help? I’m the Dominant! I’m the sadist!”
“I was told to leave the lifestyle altogether; they said that the power/control dynamic ISabuse.”
Anecdotes such as these prompted my interest in researching and documenting the experiences of those who engage in BDSM, Leather and kinky lifestyles whose relationships became abusive.Do kinky folks feel that they are discriminated against by service providers?Do they feel that they can even ask for help? These are the two major questions I aim to answer in a ground breaking research project on “Intimate Partner Abuse Among Practitioners of BDSM/Leather/Kink Lifestyles.” By placing a spotlight on the experiences and perceptions of individuals who have ever sought help in dealing with an abusive power exchange relationship, or who wanted to seek help, but didn’t, it may be possible to determine if kinky people comprise an underserved population, in order to promote improvement of the quality of information, responses and interventions provided by outreach educators and service providers.
I am very grateful to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom for supporting this important research.
This is a Public Service Announcement for San Francisco Bay Area Kinksters! Race Bannon, author of NCSF’s Finding Kink-Aware Medical Care will be attending the following Town Hall Meeting:
Kink Health Project Town Hall Meeting #1
“Whip your doctor into shape!!! Expose yourself to your therapist!!!”
Thursday, August 08, 2013 * 7:30-9:30pm Center for Sex and Culture 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco
Are you tired of having to educate your physician about your Kink lifestyle? Do you wish your therapist could really understand your relationship dynamic?
CALLING ALL KINKSTERS 18+
Make your voice heard at:
THE KINK HEALTH PROJECT TOWN HALL MEETING #1
Come voice your opinions about kink and healthcare:
Help us answer questions such as:
- What is it like to be kinky in the healthcare system? - Have you had negative or positive experiences with healthcare providers? - What are the most pressing health issues that kinksters deal with? - What do clinicians and therapists need to know about you and your lifestyle or sexuality?
The Kink Health Project is a research study investigating the physical and mental healthcare needs of kinksters.
We need your input so we can train healthcare providers to deliver competent and compassionate care to ALL sexual minorities.
The Kink Health Project is a collaboration between The Alternative Sexualities Health Research Alliance (TASHRA) and UCSF.
For more information:
On behalf of NCSF, Jim Fleckenstein and Susan Wright attended the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) Annual Conference on June 5-9th in Miami, Florida.
NCSF organized the AASECT Alt Sex Special Interest Group munch that took place Friday evening in the Hilton Miami Downtown hotel. Over 40 AASECT members attended this dinner to ask questions of several volunteers who are experienced in the BDSM and polyamory communities. It was an informative meeting and provided specific information that the professional service providers wanted. The sharp rise in attendance from last year’s 25 attendees indicates a rise in interest in alternative sexual practices.
Jim Fleckenstein was the lead presenter on What Do Polyamorists Want? A National Survey of an Underserved Population, a workshop discussing the key findings from the Loving More and NCSF internet survey, the largest-ever sample of self-identified polyamorists.
“We made some very important discoveries about this large sample of the polyamorous community,” says Jim Fleckenstein. “Our findings refute a number of negative stereotypes about openly non-exclusive relationships, especially in terms of reported health and happiness. Sharing these findings with the therapeutic community is an essential part of NCSF's service to our constituents.
Susan Wright was the presenter on Understanding Consent in a BDSM Practices, a workshop presenting survey data from the NCSF Consent Counts survey assessing kinky peoples’ attitudes on consent in a BDSM context.
The NCSF booth in the Exhibit Hall featured free copies of NCSF’s newly refreshed guide: "What Psychology Professionals Should Know About Polyamory" courtesy of a grant by Alan of Polyamory in the News (http://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com), as well as brochures on NCSF’s projects and programs.
This year for the first time at AASECT, two of the plenaries dealt with kink issues: Dr. Ken Zucker and Dr. Michael First discussed the DSM-5: Implications for the Field of Sexuality that explained the process by which the paraphilias were separated from the Paraphilic Disorders. As the plenary description stated, the “(DSM) has proven both helpful and hurtful for addressing sexual concerns throughout history.”
The plenary held on Friday afternoon was “A Journey into BDSM & Race” by Mollena Williams, who discussed her personal narrative of being a black submissive (a minority within a minority group) in the kink world. Mollena’s plenary drew hundreds of people and was well-received by the attendees.
Please help NCSF continue our important outreach at events like the 2013 AASECT conference. Please join as a member now, go to our donation page, or encourage your group to hold a fundraiser for NCSF. Your support is critical to NCSF and we need it to continue to help the BDSM, swing and polyamory communities. www.ncsfreedom.org
Polyamory Research Survey Background From February 10th to April 2nd 2012, Loving More (http://www.lovemore.com/) ,with the endorsement of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom https://ncsfreedom.org/) (NCSF) conducted an internet-based survey of over 4000 participants who self-identify as polyamorous. This is the largest survey of self-identified polyamorous individuals to date. Individuals were recruited through local and regional listserves, Loving More email list, the Poly Researchers list, the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality's (IASHS) student and alumni lists, and the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists' (AASECT) AltSex list. With the exception of five questions, all the questions were drawn from among those asked in the NORC's biennial General Social Survey (http://www.norc.org/Research/Projects/Pages/general-social-survey.aspx) (GSS) in order to compare a sample of the polyamory community with the general US adult population.
The American Psychiatric Association has depathologized kinky sex – including cross-dressing, fetishes, and BDSM – in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Now the paraphilias are considered to be “unusual sexual interests,” while those who have sex with children or people who haven’t consented, or who deliberately cause harm to themselves or others, may be diagnosed with a Paraphilic Disorder.
“The APA has made it clear that being kinky is not a mental disorder,” says Susan Wright, Spokesperson for NCSF. “That means people no longer have to fear being diagnosed as mentally ill just because they belong to a BDSM group. We’ve already seen the impact – NCSF immediately saw a sharp rise in the success rate of child custody cases for kinky parents after the proposed DSM-5 criteria was released three years ago.”
NCSF would like to thank everyone who participated in signing our DSM Revision Petition and for telling the APA about their own stories of discrimination and persecution. NCSF also thanks every member of the APA Paraphilias Subworkgroup for responding to our concerns, and drawing a hard line between consensual adult kinky sex and those who willfully engage in nonconsensual or harmful activities.
NCSF is proud to build on the work of kink-aware professionals who have come before us, including Race Bannon and Guy Baldwin, who helped make seminal changes in the DSM-IV in 1994.
The following are some statements about the various paraphilias in the DSM-5. Although highly clinical in language, they show the APA’s intent to not demand treatment for healthy consenting adult sexual expression:
“A paraphilia is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having a paraphilic disorder, and a paraphilia by itself does not necessarily justify or require clinical intervention.” p. 686
“In contrast, if they declare no distress, exemplified by anxiety, obsessions, guilt or shame, about these paraphilic impulses, and are not hampered by them in pursuing other personal goals, they could be ascertained as having masochistic sexual interest but should not be diagnosed with a sexual masochism disorder.” p. 694
“Many individuals who self-identify as fetishist practitioners do not necessarily report clinical impairment in association with their fetish-associated behaviors. Such individuals could be considered as having a fetish but not fetishistic disorder.” p. 701
“Clinical assessment of distress or impairment, like clinical assessment of transvestic sexual arousal, is usually dependent on the individual’s self-report.” p. 703
NCSF relies entirely on your donations to advance the rights of consenting adults and to do advocacy like our DSM Revision Project. Please donate now!