From the President
Hello colleagues: July and August have been months of regrouping at AASECT. After June’s marathon Board meeting and mega-activity Conference, reflecting about where we are, who we are, and where we need to go as an organization has become the focus of board attention. Tasks put on hold to meet demands of governance and conference organizing in June now press for attention, and September annual planning is here. The themes that are preoccupying leadership this year are strategic planning and revision of governance documents and ways of doing things. As this year our nation recognizes 1619 as the four-hundred-year anniversary of the founding of the institution of slavery in what became the United States, AASECT leadership commits to centering efforts at recognizing legacies of injustice and oppression that still hold us back from truly democratic living. Hierarchies of privilege and unconscious superiorities that interfere with optimizing benefits to our field, our organization, our relationships, and our personal development need to be openly considered and skills in how to conduct conversations—indeed, dialogues—focused on difficult and painful topics need to be learned and practiced. The coming months will feature zoom calls with various groups, members, and former members of AASECT to gather suggestions for how to proceed and what to pursue in our strategic plan. Diversity, equity and inclusion galvanize creativity, productivity, and satisfaction in organizations that foster them.
While our formal conference evaluations have not been fully tabulated, signs are that the conference was highly successful socially, intellectually, and financially.
I heard folks happy with
- AASECT’s growing diversity, evident in increasing numbers of people of color attending, presenting and providing leadership
- Our “conference concierge,” a Philadelphia resident, who directed out-of-towners to near-by restaurants, museums, parks, and more.
- Dinner meet-ups, which helped first-timers avoid lonely room-service dinners
- Dalychia Saah’s compelling, personal plenary about the formative power of pleasure in her life
- Sofia Jawed-Wessel’s reframing, destigmatizing, “teen pregnancy” as “young parenthood”
- Stella Resnick’s stories of early years as a sexologist
- Robin Wilson-Beattie’s positive perspectives on disabilities and sexuality
- Kate Bornstein’s fabulous humor and expansive views
- Philadelphia as woke—even the airport provides unisex bathrooms
- Our business meeting. Usually ignored by all but two or three members, this year it was a well-attended source of dialogue, exchange of information, and, hopefully, innovative collaboration between Taste of Kink organizers and AASECT leadership
- Party to recognize and to thank our volunteers appreciated and enjoyed
- Workshops – quality and number high!
WHAT CHANGE LOOKS LIKE: MANAGING DIVERSE PERSPECTIVES IN A MULTICULTURAL ORGANIZATION
A few who attended our conference expressed concern over some comments speakers made and asked AASECT to apologize for their words.
Our Chair of the Ethics Advisory Committee, Dan Watter, responded to my request for an ethics-centered reading of the dilemma and for advice on how to handle such a complaint. He responded, “We cannot be expected to control the verbiage of our speakers. There is time for Q+A after each presentation, and anyone who is put off by what a speaker says can challenge them in open forum. As an organization, AASECT must decide if we want to de-platform speakers because of their political positions. Personally, I do not think this a good idea. I am a believer in open presentations, even if they may be offensive to some. That doesn’t mean that respectful dialogue can’t ensue from a controversial position—indeed, I would suggest it is helpful and educational for audience and speaker alike. Nevertheless, I see this as a BOD issue regarding how much “control” they wish to have over the program. Frankly, demanding apologies is a hollow act. Anyone has every right to send an open letter to AASECT and confront a speaker directly with her concerns. This may be educational and instructive to them both.
I am not sure what ethical principle is being violated here. I understand comments may be offensive, but speakers are entitled to their political positions. Just because she said this at an AASECT meeting does not mean that AASECT is supportive of anything beyond her right to say it.”
For a new book written on the importance of protecting and practicing freedom of speech, I recommend Nadine Strossen’s (2018) HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship, published by Oxford University Press. Professor Strossen was the first women to head the ACLU (and now is a professor of law at New York University. She points out that free speech creates discomfort and pain but is a requirement for the survival of democracy. Here is a quote from her introduction:
To be sure, campuses and other arenas in our society must strive to be inclusive, to make everyone welcome, especially those who traditionally have been excluded or marginalized. But that inclusivity must also extend to those who voice unpopular ideas, especially on campus, where ideas should be most freely aired, discussed, and debated. Encountering “unwelcome” ideas, including those that are hateful and discriminatory, is essential for honing our abilities to analyze, criticize, and refute them (p. 2).
As AASECT has grown to include more members, the diversity of our opinions, perspectives, and experiences has also expanded and will continue to do so.As AASECT has grown to include more members, the diversity of our opinions, perspectives, and experiences has also expanded.Many now call for “brave speech” not “safe speech” and I think uncomfortability is part of the price of gaining cultural competence and developing cultural humility.I hope we can speak our truth respectfully, being mindful of how our words impact others and also engage in conversations that enable us to widen our views.
TWO NEW BOARD MEMBERS:
July 1 saw two newly elected Board members, take their seats. Please welcome Juan Camarena, PhD, LMFT, LPCC, CST, our 2019 Conference Chair, who became AASECT’s new Outreach Steering Committee Chair, and Lexx Brown-James, PhD, LMFT, CSE, a member of AASECT’s Conference Committee, who became AASECT’s new Vice President of Membership. Outgoing Outreach Steering Committee Chair is Tameca Harris-Jackson, PhD, MSW, LICSW, CST, and outgoing Membership Vice President is Tina Schermer-Sellers, PhD, LMFT, CST, CSTS ---many kudos and thanks to them for their valuable service. Tameca will continue to serve on two important task forces, AASECT’s Strategic Planning Task Force and Board Restructuring Task Force.
CELEBRATE WORLD SEXUAL HEALTH DAY ALL YEAR—NOT ONLY SEPTEMBER 4TH:
AASECT recognized September 4 as “World Sexual Health Day.” The World Association for Sexual Health,” an organization to which AASECT belongs, inaugurated recognition of the importance of sexual health in 2010. To see how others around the globe celebrated, visit World Sexual Health Day website at this link: https://diamundialsaludsexual.org/
The theme for World Sexual Health Day this year was “Sexual education for all: A bridge to sexual health.”
Sexual health and sexual rights are human rights that can transform the destinies of those who have access to them. Today, the war against sex/gender freedom seems to threaten gains we have spent our lifetimes working for. Let’s recognize and reaffirm our commitment to making the world safe for sexual health and sexual rights today by showing each other how much we appreciate the special work each of us does to further sexual and so social justice.
Thanks to each of you for what you do to improve the world’s sexual health!
INTERNATIONAL PRONOUNS DAY:
AASECT endorses and observes International Pronouns Day, Wednesday, October 16, 2019. International Pronouns Day seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace. Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people’s multiple, intersecting identities. We encourage colleges, schools, workplaces, and local organizations to hold educational and empowering events on International Pronouns Day.
To include your other organizations in this important affirmation, go to https://pronounsday.org/register.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR NAMED FORTY UNDER 40® AWARD RECIPIENT:
AASECT is proud to announce our Executive Director, Kellie Braband has been named a 2019 Forty Under 40® award recipient by the Association Forum and USAE weekly newspaper.
The Forty Under 40 awards program, established in 2013, recognizes 40 up-and-coming association or nonprofit professionals who are under the age of 40, demonstrate high potential for success in leadership roles, and exhibit a strong commitment to the association management profession.
Kellie started at Bostrom in 2015 as a program manager and quickly rose to account executive in 2018, stepping into a leadership role as the executive director for the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).
Kellie connects her honor with her work with AASECT, explaining, “I feel so honored to be recognized by the Association Forum and USAE at this point in my career,” says Braband. “The passion I have for our clients’ missions and the ability to support diversity and inclusion initiatives within AASECT and Bostrom have made my work so rewarding.”
Congratulations, Kellie, and thank you for your transformative work on behalf of AASECT!
NEW PROTOCOL ADDRESSES ETHICS COMPLAINTS AT AASECT:
AASECT’s Board approved new procedures for addressing ethics complaints at its June 12, 2019 meeting. Members attending a session at AASECT’s 2018 Conference registered dismay that violations of consent went unaddressed too often at AASECT. The board had defined AASECT’s Ethics Committee as educational, without power to discipline. Because AASECT did not have resources to investigate complaints adequately, members could easily assume the organization was not vitally concerned to maintain a culture that valued consent.
Nothing was further from the truth. AASECT’s Board that assumed leadership in July of 2018 named consent a value that would be strengthened in our organization, not only on a micro-level among our members, but also at our governance level among committee and board members over the next few years. Greater transparency and dialogue were identified as needed if leadership were to become accessible to all at AASECT. Strategic planning and policy and procedure revisions were adopted as priorities to center diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at all levels of AASECT.
On the micro-level, procedures to facilitate reporting complaints and commitment to Board disciplinary powers were strengthened. Working with legal counsel, AASECT staff and leadership adopted a new reporting form to support the disciplinary process approved in 2016, illustrated in the flow chart below. The form requires complainants to identify themselves and define violations. If the accused is a licensed professional, the accusation will be shared with the licensing authority, equipped to investigate complaints of professional violations. If illegal actions are reported, the complainant is asked to make a police report. No anonymous complaints will be addressed. If the accusation is substantiated and the licensing authority takes action, AASECT will also suspend or end membership and/or certifications.
If the accused is not a licensed professional and the Board is able to ascertain the facts of the violation, the Board will end or suspend AASECT membership and/or certifications.
To get a report form and to report ethics violations, members and complainants outside our membership should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Dan Watter, PhD, CST, is Chair of AASECT’s Ethics Committee.
The Ethics Committee worked with AASECT’s Executive Committee and AASECT’s legal counsel to create a new policy that specify how to report ethics complaints and explains how complaints will be handled. While the Ethics Committee is charged with responding to complaints with education explaining the ethics of the violation, the Board is charged with determining disciplinary action. The process starts when a complainant fills out and signs a form reporting an ethics violation, which then is sent to the person being reported. Facts of the matter are established in conversations with everyone involved in the reported violation. If the violation requires disciplinary action, the Board reviews the case and takes action—perhaps suspending or ending membership or certification privileges as well as notifying appropriate licensing authorities. If laws have been violated, it is recommended a police report is made.
COMING UP AT AASECT:
- September 12 weekly meetings started in preparation for 2020 Conference, to be held in Palm Springs, CA, June 4-7.
- September 17 telephonic board meeting
- September 26-28, Bylaws Committee meeting, Chicago, continued work on updating AASECT’s Policies and Procedures.
- October 24-26, Certification Committee meets in Chicago, to update certification requirements and policies and procedures.
- November 1-3, an AASECT Institute, entitled “The Body Whisperers: Understanding Body Work in the Sexuality Realm,” will take place in New Orleans.
- November 14-16 Board training and meeting in Chicago. AASECT’s Strategic Planning document will be presented to the board.
Happy fall, everyone. Your feedback and comments are always welcomed. email@example.com
Associate Professor of Practice
The Brown School
Washington University in St. Louis