NCSF will use these results to help perform its advocacy, such as helping law enforcement, prosecutors and health care professionals understand the experiences of kinky people and provide better quality service.
This survey is anonymous and your privacy is guaranteed by Survey Monkey, a secured survey hosting website. NCSF does not have access to any identifying information about the participants.
NCSF faced some difficult challenges in 2013, but the dedicated volunteer staff worked hard to advocate for the BDSM, swing and polyamory lifestyles:
Kink is Okay
The biggest news of 2013 was that the American Psychiatric Association depathologized consensual sadism, masochism, cross-dressing and fetishes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). NCSF’s DSM-Revision project began in April 2008, to change the DSM criteria that was being used against healthy kinky adults in legal settings, and causing significant discrimination and distress because of the social stigma the APA attached to alternative sexual behavior.
NCSF directly educated the media and the relevant members of the American Psychiatric Association, as well as presenting data through the DSM Revision Petition, signed by over 3,200 people including many mental health professionals, and in letters to the editor published in Archives of Sexual Behavior. Annual data was presented from NCSF’s Incident Reporting &Response program along with the results of two surveys on Violence & Discrimination Against Sexual Minorities conducted in 1998 and 2008.
The Archives of Sexual Behavior has also accepted NCSF’s Letter to the Editor “Kinky Parents and Child Custody: The Effect of the DSM-5 Differentiation between the Paraphilias and Paraphilic Disorders,” describing the decline in child custody cases reported to NCSF that involve discrimination against BDSM practitioners since the proposed DSM criteria depathologizing BDSM was made public in 2010.
NCSF’s Consent Counts discussions continued around the country on the “Consent Statement” that was launched on February 8, 2013 at the Annual Coalition Partner Meeting. This statement was based on Consent Counts discussions and on over 4,000 responses returned on NCSF’s Consent Survey about the concept of risk and people’s attitudes about consent. NCSF also created a 1-page Summary “Policy Statement on Consent.”
In 2013, NCSF launched a Continuing Legal Education workshop as part of the Consent Counts program to educate lawyers and prosecutors about assault laws and how they are used against consenting adults. In addition, a new educational series was launched in Chicago at the Leather Archives & Museum with a presentation entitled “BDSM? Erotic Play? What Are the Legal Risks?” by Judy Guerin, Dick Cunningham andJudge Rudy Serra.
NCSF also created a number of new FAQs in 2013 to help victims and educate professionals about the difference between BDSM and assault. “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. NCSF’s “Statement on Power Exchange Relationships,” discusses both the ethical and legal concepts that are critical to understanding the meaning and importance of consent in power exchange relationships.
“The Guide for Groups” includes a suggested consent policy, how to deal with consent violations that take place at a group or event, and advice on how to revoke membership or entry to an event without liability. The FAQ “Is This Assault?” explains which consent violations may rise to the level of assault, while “Dealing With Assault” answers many of the common questions kinky survivors have about reporting assault to law enforcement, medical or social service professionals. NCSF also lists hotlines for kink aware victim services associated with the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects that are ready to help kinky victims of assault and abuse. And there is a wallet-card that explains BDSM vs. Abuse in terms of consent to help you explain kink to law enforcement and social service professionals.
NCSF’s Board Members and Education Outreach Project presented 22 educational programs in 2013, with a focus on consent discussions and Consent Counts information. NCSF also tabled at events around the country distributing literature such as “Finding Kink Aware Medical Care” and “Finding a Kink Aware Therapist.”
The groups and events where NCSF presented includes: APEX, Beat Me in St. Louis, BOLD Con, COPE, CPI Anniversary Weekend, DomCon/Atlanta, DuckStock (Alternative) CampOut, Evansville MAsT,GLLA, House of Decorum Leather Ball, Incognito Dungeon Facility, KinkLincs, Lifestyles Exchange, Macon Munch Group, Madtown Kinkfest, Nashville Pride, Smokey Mountain Power Exchange, Spanksgiving, Whimper Munch Group, and Winter Wickedness.
NCSF also exhibited at 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 at the Hilton Miami Downtown hotel that was attended by over 40 AASECT members who were interested in finding out more about BDSM, polyamory and swinging.
Jim Fleckenstein was the lead presenter on What Do Polyamorists Want? A National Survey of an Underserved Population, a workshop discussing key findings from the Loving More and NCSF survey. Susan Wright was the presenter on Understanding Consent in BDSM Practices, a workshop presenting data from the NCSF Consent Counts Survey about consent in a BDSM context.
NCSF also assisted in setting up a BDSM Panel Discussion for AASECT’s Summer Institute in St. Louis by enlisting Coalition Partner STL3, which provided a diverse and knowledgeable panel that discussed aspects of BDSM, community ethics, and related safety and consent issues.
The media team broadened NCSF’s reach into social media, with NCSF’s Facebook page getting 1,000 likes and over 6,500 followers on Twitter. 42 interviews were given to reporters from mainstream media to blogs, including the Associated Press, New York Times, Esquire, The Atlantic, Maire Claire, GQ, the Village Voice, Details,US News & World Report, and two Huffington Post Live appearances. Susan Wright was featured in the E! Entertainment Special, “The Real 50 Shades of Grey,” that aired around the world during 2013.
As usual, NCSF provided media back-up for Folsom Street East, which had to be canceled this year due to the construction project on the block. NCSF also continued its media training program for groups and individuals who wanted to learn how to talk to reporters about kink, polyamory or the Lifestyle. To follow the NCSF Media Updates or get the Media Update Digest, subscribe to NCSF’s newsletter on the website: www.ncsfreedom.org
NCSF Coalition Partner TTB Ventures - Touch of Flavor fought the biggest public battle in 2013. NCSF consulted on their legal and media response, and TTB Ventures handled the media storm with professional excellence. They pursued their case in court and succeeded in getting a settlement that is important for all kink events, proving once again that we can win against discrimination and persecution. Coppermine Field House LLC, the manager of the Clarence "Du" Burns Arena, also issued a statement correcting "any incorrect impressions" about Touch of Flavor and acknowledged that TTB Ventures notified the original management of the nature of the event when the contract was signed.
NCSF also supported Leather & Grace’s efforts to educate Unitarian Universalist ministers, directors of religious education, and congregational leaders about the BDSM communities, the ethical principles, and issues of discrimination and prejudice. Silent Sunday was just one of Leather & Grace’s activist opportunities in 2013.
Though there were problems with NCSF’s Incident Reporting & Response program in 2013, and much of the data for this year has not been recovered yet, some of the cases NCSF assisted on included: providing DSM-5 info for child custody cases, writing a letter to a city attorney on behalf of a swing club, referrals for expert witnesses in cases involving BDSM, advice on getting permits for events, answering questions about organizational issues such as corporate ownership of a 501c7, doing outreach to local police pre-event, and how to deal with someone taking photographs at an event. There were also people looking for lawyers and information on laws dealing with civil and criminal issues including: pro-dommes asking about state prostitution laws, a kinky community center that ran afoul of zoning regulations, and arrests for Domestic Violence that involved consensual BDSM.
The Kink Aware Professionals database is updated on a continual basis, and added nearly 100 professionals in 2013 to bring the total up to 1,224 kink aware professionals that people can directly access when they need help.
NCSF upgraded its website at the end of 2013 to incorporate a new membership function and to upgrade the Kink Aware Professionals database, in particular the search function to make it easier to search for what you need. The KAP database is the most-visited part of NCSF's website and is a hugely valuable tool for people looking for assistance from a doctor, lawyer, therapist or other professional.
The NCSF Fire Recovery Fundraiser in the first half of 2013 brought in $9,233 that went straight to the NCSF-Foundation to fund the purchase of new brochures totaling nearly $4,000.Replacement banners still need to be purchased as well as NCSF’s T-shirt inventory. At the end of 2013, the Board also drafted new Financial and Control Policies for both NCSF and NCSF-Foundation and broadcast them to the Coalition Partners for approval at the Annual Board Meeting in Nashville on March 15-16, 2014.
The Board of NCSF regrets to announce that it appears Leigha Fleming breached her fiduciary duty and diverted at least $60,000 from the NCSF 501(c)4 membership organization for her own personal expenses since September 2011.
Leigha Fleming died on December 19, 2013. Leigha started volunteering for NCSF in 2000, and served as Chairman of the Board from 2008-2013.
The Board of NCSF is acting aggressively to recover as much of the missing funds as possible. A lawsuit is being filed in probate court, and the matter has been referred to law enforcement authorities.
The Board of NCSF has authorized an outside financial review of the books of the NCSF 501(c)4 membership organization, and Stephanie Sassy Lynn has been appointed the new Treasurer. The NCSF-Foundation 501(c)3 account, which received all of the donations for our "Office Fire Fundraiser," was not involved in this matter and continues to be overseen by the Foundation Treasurer, Jim Fleckenstein.
Going forward, the Board is working on ensuring our membership organization is in rigorous compliance with our financial policies and procedures. Several changes have been made to our financial policies to ensure that an opportunity for a repeat of this behavior is not possible, and this situation can never re-occur.
Our volunteer staff members freely give their time, heart and energy to fight discrimination and persecution, and we feel betrayed and devastated. NCSF operates on a small annual budget of $60-70,000 for both the NCSF membership organization and the NCSF-Foundation. We deeply regret the missed activist opportunities that could have been accomplished with the money that is missing.
Regardless of the damage done to NCSF, the work has not gone away. Sexual freedom is not yet a reality, and people still suffer personally and publicly from practicing BDSM, Swing, and Polyamorous lifestyles. NCSF remains committed to moving forward with all of our programs and efforts intact.
Contact NCSF at:
* have ever been in a Leather/BDSM/kink relationship in which you experienced intimate partner abuse, and
* sought help from publicly available domestic violence/intimate partner abuse services, or
* wanted to seek help from publicly available domestic violence/intimate partner abuse services, but did not do so.
The interview will take no more than 2 hours to complete.
Please respond no later than January 10, 2014.
Your participation is voluntary. All responses are confidential. 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.
The purpose of this interview is to gather information regarding the quality of experiences had by those who sought help from domestic violence/intimate partner abuse 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.
Would you be interested in participating in an in-depth face-to-face or telephone interview (to last no more than 2 hours) about your experiences? If so, please contact Dr. Elizabeth Fawcett at
or call 972-742-7717 to set up an interview.
If you have any questions about the interview, 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
There is potential risk of loss of confidentiality in all email, downloading and internet transactions.
Please sign NCSF Coalition Partner's Leather & Grace - UUs for BDSM Awareness's Change.org petition. Join us in our call for the UUA to make it clear that their kinky and poly employees also deserve protection!
Petitioning Rob Molla:
In April 2013, a delegation from Leather & Grace ~ Unitarian Universalists for BDSM Awareness met with the Trustees and senior administrators of the Unitarian Universalist Association, to share concerns and engage in dialogue.
One major issue was the work environment at UUA headquarters.Some UUA employees had reported being silenced merely for identifying with alternative sexuality communities, or sharing educational information about kink or polyamory.
In discussing this with Board members and UUA senior administrators, one of the Trustees recommended that a proactive memo be sent to all employees of the UUA, clarifying that the Association’s nondiscrimination policy applies to all sexual identities, including kink and polyamory, and identifying boundaries for appropriate office behavior.Senior administrators responded positively to the idea of sending such a memo.
Since that meeting, the leadership of Leather & Grace has followed up with UUA leadership, and even drafted proposed content for this memo – and still the UUA has not issued a clarifying memo to their staff, nor have they given any reasons why they won't do so.
The UUA and its member congregations have a proud history of inclusion, affirmation, advocacy and education for people of diverse sexual orientations.With the rise in public awareness around BDSM, kink, and other forms of consensual sexual expression, isn’t it time that this progressive faith movement catch up with the rest of society?
Tell the UUA’s Director of Human Resources, Rob Molla, and other top Unitarian Universalist leaders to make it clear that kinky and polyamorous employees have basic workplace protections at UUA headquarters.Sign this petition calling for them to issue a proactive memo as discussed, and to work with groups like Leather & Grace and UUs for Polyamory Awareness to make the UUA a safer place to work for all their employees.
To: Rob Molla, Director of Human Resources, UUA Rev. Peter Morales, President, UUA Rev. Harlan Limpert, Chief Operating Officer, UUA Jim Key, Moderator and Chief Governance Officer, UUA Annette Marquis, LGBTQ and Multicultural Ministries Program Manager, UUA
Make it clear: Alt-Sex UUA employees deserve protections, too!
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: