I am a member of several professional organizations. One organization, the American Counseling Association (ACA), has been committed to social justice, diversity, and culturally competant practice since forever. Their counseling competencies have been extremely helpful to me over the years.
I am also a certified sexuality counselor and member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). In my experience, AASECT has paid little attention to these matters in the years I’ve been a member. So it is good to see the following statement which was just made on our listserve and which is also up on the AASECT website.
Black Lives Matter: A Commitment from the AASECT Board of Directors
The Board of Directors of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists joins its membership in collective mourning and outrage over the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless other murders not captured on video [Link to NPR article] or highlighted in the media.
As we are called to action to interrupt, confront and dismantle systems of oppression, we know that we are also being called to look within – as individuals, as professionals, as community members, and as leaders of this organization. It is long overdue that we acknowledge AASECT is a historically white non-profit, with a predominantly white membership, and a predominantly (though not exclusively) white Board of Directors. As practitioners, our work is deeply rooted in fields of study and practice within a larger culture that have profited off and exploited Black, Indigenous & People of Color’s bodies, identities and lives. AASECT has, and continues to, participate in and perpetuate these systems of oppression. We know that we have long been offered this feedback by our members who experience it the most, and that collectively, our responses have been woefully insufficient and in many places absent altogether or worse. Simply put, we have not done the work to dismantle white supremacy within AASECT, and it is past time that we do so.
On May 29th, the AASECT Board voted to approve a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) centered Strategic Plan. This plan is a culmination of three years of strategic planning process, and will guide the work at all levels of the organization for the next three years, and beyond. This plan outlines our commitments to intentionally shift AASECT in [the] direction where our work, our field and our organization centers the principles and practices of social justice. We know that it is a significant undertaking, and one that is urgent. The strategic plan is a comprehensive document that asks all of AASECT to fundamentally rethink the way we have understood our mission and invite more opportunities for growth and change. We will provide more information about the plan during our virtual summit this week, along with opportunities for members to get involved in this process.
The Strategic Plan speaks to the organization as a whole, but we are an organization of members and nothing will change if we do not do our individual-level work. White members need to start with ourselves. We are offering the following resource shares to our members, as a starting place for members to do individual work and support each other. We encourage you to contribute your ideas and resources to this shared document: AASECT Anti-Racist Resource Share,
• Resources for white people to better understand what white supremacy is and identify how it operates.
• Opportunities for our BIPOC members to let other members know how to be of support (attending or promoting your events, networking, etc.).
•Black and BIPOC organizations and causes to direct resources and finances to (such as bail funds, community orgs, etc).
Black Lives. Matter.
AASECT Board of Directors
Susan Stiritz, PhD, MSW, MBA, CSE, CSES, AASECT President
Chris Fariello, PhD, MA, LMFT, CST, CSE, CSTS, AASECT President-elect
Melissa Novak, LCSW, CST, CSTS, AASECT Secretary
Todd Malloy, MA, LMFT, CST, CSE, AASECT Treasurer
Lexx Brown-James, LMFT, CSE, CSES, AASECT Vice President of Membership
Eli Green, PhD, CSE, CSES, Communications Steering Committee Chair
Juan Camarena, PhD, LMFT, LPCC, CST, Outreach Steering Committee Chair
Rosalyn Dischiavo, EdD, MA, CSE, CSES, Professional Education Steering Committee Chair
Sally Valentine, PhD, FAACS, LCSW, CST, CSTS, Certification Steering Committee Chair
Margie Nichols, PhD, CST, CSTS, Public Relations, Media and Advocacy Chair
Kellie Braband, Executive Director
American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists
35 E. Wacker Dr., Suite 850
Chicago, IL 60601
I am confident that AASECT will do a better job from now on of stepping up their game, and that members (and thus clients of members) are well supported from now on.