There were many of us who worked for over one year to create the following statement that was recently approved by the Board of Directors of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors & Therapists (AASECT). When the statement was approved, Dr. Russell Stambaugh said, “With this passage of this position, AASECT is officially on record as supporting BDSM, polyamory and consensual non-monogamy as potentially sexually healthy lifestyle choices and behaviors. This constitutes full implementation of Kinsey’s ideas about the broad range of sexually healthy behaviors.”
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Sexual Expression including Orientation and Identity: Treatment & Education Foundations
It is the position of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists that we oppose any and all therapy models and interventions as well as any educational programs and curricula that seek to pathologize, dictate, or prescribe a person’s sexual orientation, identity, and/or consensual, sexual expression, whether or not it is conventional or atypical. Regardless of how such clinical interventions or educational programs are labeled or named, AASECT recommends all helping and educating professionals to utilize best practices and culturally relevant resources for foundation and reference.
Furthermore: AASECT affirms that sexuality is central to the human experience and sexual rights must be honored in order for sexual health and overall well-being to be obtained. Informed by the best empirical research, AASECT recognizes human sexual experiences as diverse and supports the acceptance of sexual diversity while embracing consensual sexual expression within the framework of human rights and social justice.
AASECT accepts the evidence that human sexual experience includes a vast spectrum of sexual expression, orientation, and identities. These sexualities, between consenting adults when agreed upon, with permission, and assenting, are typically not psychopathological behaviors. Indeed, recent peer-reviewed research on these sexual experiences shows no correlation to pathology.
AASECT further asserts that all people seeking treatment and education about consensual sexual behavior, identity, or orientation deserve accurate information. AASECT accepts that the empirical evidence is reasonably complete on reparative and conversion therapies that attempt to change sexual orientation or identity and shows that these techniques are experimental at best and overwhelmingly ineffective, with harmful consequences for clients widely documented.
AASECT takes the position that social justice plays an essential and foundational role in the organization’s mission. Individuals have the right to be free as possible from undue constraints (e.g. discrimination, stigmatization, oppression and violence) along with the freedom to consensual sexual expression. Destigmatizing human sexual expression and experiences as well as creating and maintaining safe space for those who have been traditionally marginalized are essential practices for AASECT members who are predominately mental health practitioners and educators. This overarching goal compels AASECT to disavow any therapeutic and educational effort that, even if unwittingly, violates or impinges on AASECT’s vision of human rights and social justice.