From the President's Desk - February 2017
As February comes to a close, we are just a few short months away from our Annual Conference, where we will honor our 50 year history as an organization. Rooms are booking up quickly so please reserve space soon!
Many of us feel that our nation remains in challenging times – particularly when news hits that affects the sexual, gender, and reproductive rights that so many in our professional field hold dear and that affect our students and clients. And yet I am proud of the very good work that AASECT and its members continue to do in these and related areas.
AASECT recently updated its Positive on Reparative Therapy that formerly focused on sexual orientation and has since been broadened to include transgender and gender non-conforming identities. Ian Kerner, Eli Green, Luca Maurer, Maureen Kelly, Melanie Davis, Gretchen Fincke, and Cristen Kennedy each played important roles in the development and review of the statement.
As PRMA Chair, Ian Kerner has also been instrumental in helping AASECT to reach a broader audience through various media, including recent online articles that highlighted AASECT’s Vision of Sexual Health. I’m thankful, too, to Jayleen Galarza who, as Outreach Chair, has enthusiastically taken on the charge of setting up a committee specifically focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Her call for interest resulted in a number of excellent members with various personal and professional backgrounds and expertise reaching out and offering their time and service to AASECT. She is in the process of setting up that committee now so stay tuned!
Recently on the listserv, we’ve been having our own conversations about the kind of personal work and investment we make in these areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We’ve been talking about some of the books, films, and poetry that have transformed our views of the world in some way. And of course many of are engaged in work within our own communities. At Indiana University’s School of Public Health, for example, (where I work) I’ve been grateful to be a part of a series of faculty/staff events called Candid Conversations, where we process our own issues related to race, ethnicity, gender, and various kinds of privilege and oppression. These have been some of the most important and meaningful events I’ve ever participated in at my workplace. Additionally, some of the AASECT committees on which I serve have also proved to be places where we can be open, vulnerable, and challenging (I think in a good way) with one another in regard to these kinds of issues. I mention this because it matters to me to be part of a community like ours. Sometimes we bump up against one another. Hopefully we learn, we grow, and we give one another the benefit of the doubt that we are not just trying, but are also making progress. Fifty years offers many opportunities for celebration and also many opportunities to look forward and to imagine how we might evolve for the better. We have so many fantastic members who put in time, effort, vision, and expertise in moving AASECT onward and upward. I am thankful to all of our volunteers, past and present, and our tireless, devoted, smart, and kind AASECT staff members who do the work every day to keep us going.
I hope to see you in Las Vegas!
Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH, CSE