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AASECT Annual Conference


Wednesday, June 8, 2016 - 08:00 to Sunday, June 12, 2016 - 03:00


AASECT 48th Annual Conference
June 8-12, 2016
Condado Plaza Hilton
San Juan, PR

2016 AASECT Annual Conference Theme:
Putting the Pieces Together:  Inclusivity in Practice

A mosaic is made of numerous pieces, each one unique, and equally important in the end result.  In order to construct one, intricate and unique tiles are brought together to create an overall picture. If a single piece is unaccounted for, the mosaic is unfinished. The full beauty of a landscape cannot be actualized if any piece is lost, neglected, or destroyed.

A mosaic cannot come together without a solid foundation upon which to build. As a part of sexuality work, it is essential that we examine the foundations of our profession, our individual practices within the profession, and our individual selves. Despite social gains, the foundations of our field are continually threatened by systems of prejudice, including racism, classism, ableism, ageism, sexism, heterocentrism, genderism, and transphobia. These systems work against us as sexuality professionals, inhibit our students’ and clients’ success in creating their own sexuality mosaic; thus, resulting in an unfinished landscape. 

As sexuality educators, counselors, and therapists, tantamount to our goal is helping our students and clients examine the diverse and unique pieces that create their own sexuality mosaic. Foundational to this is our commitment as sexuality professionals to ensure ideal opportunities are available for everyone to achieve their full potential. Additionally, we must create or expand spaces to better understand constructs that undermine equity and practices to promote social justice. As individuals we must continually examine own values, beliefs, practices, and experiences to ensure that our personal and professional approaches reflect the complex picture of human sexuality. As professionals and as a field, it is essential that we contextualize the intersectionality of a person’s abilities, sexual identity, culture, environment, language, geographic location, personal experiences, knowledge base, and access to adequate resources and accurate information as a part of understanding the full picture of sexuality.

Inclusivity in practice often focuses on valuing, respecting, and supporting the needs, talents, and skills of every individual, and taking deliberate actions to engage those that are often not present, considered, or heard. There are factors to consider with regards to inclusivity. For example, having good intent when working towards inclusion is important and should be informed by the reality of the situation. Furthermore, recognition of impact is equally important. This can mean developing a full understanding of the picture and carefully considering each unique piece of the mosaic.

There are many questions to consider with regards to inclusivity and the field of sexuality. For example, as a field; What are the foundations of inequity? How do the systems of prejudice weaken the growth of the sexuality field, the sexuality professional, and the students and clients with whom we work? How do we currently define and/or understand inclusivity? How do we assess positive intentions versus negative impacts? How can sexuality educators, counselors & therapists become allies and advocates, in supporting those whose voices & experiences are marginalized? How can we honor the diverse needs, experiences, and identities of our students & clients? What are the necessary steps in creating best practices for inclusivity? What approaches, techniques, or strategies could be helpful or present challenges in the advancement of inclusivity in the field?  And most importantly, how do we hold ourselves and each other accountable for realizing the vision of a fully inclusive and affirming field?

As we gather together in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2016, we will explore the various pieces in the landscape of human sexuality, with an eye towards expanding our understanding of the utmost importance and significance of practicing inclusivity and impact-awareness in the field of sexuality. Beyond naming a vision of inclusivity for our field, we will also focus on identifying and implementing steps toward to forming this mosaic together. To this end, we welcome proposals that focus on approaches that further the advancement of inclusivity within the field of sexuality.

Special consideration will be given to proposals that relate to the overall conference theme, in particular to advance diversity and inclusivity in the field and within AASECT as a professional organization. As a starting point, we encourage submissions that focus on:

  • Deepening our understanding of the impacts of systems of inequity on the members of our field/AASECT and the individuals we serve. For example, what sources of inequity can contribute to limited student, client, and research participant engagement?
  • Ways to increase the richness of diverse identities and experiences within our field/AASECT. For example, what barriers prevent full participation (such as socioeconomic, accessibility, language & communication) in conferences, within organizations, and the field as a whole?
  • Defining intersectionality and expanding approaches that honor multiple identities. For example: What is intersectionality? How can a student or client be better served by an intersectional approach? 
  • Examining transdisciplinary approaches to education, counseling, therapy, and research that reflect diverse abilities, backgrounds, identities, and variations in communication. For example, how can practitioners from differing disciplines collaborate, and share ideas or approaches to inform educational & therapeutic content, models, and practices?  
  • Exploring technological advancements and devices that facilitates engagement, promotes communication, and fosters understanding of human sexuality. For example, how can practitioners use mobile apps to transmit information and measure learning? How might video conference platforms be used for therapeutic purposes? How can online platforms impact recruitment & research? How can common technology devices (i.e. Ipads & tablets) be used to improve accessibility, communication, and engagement?
  • Assessing the accessibility of sexually explicit media & toys, sexual health care, condoms & contraception, sexuality information, education, counseling, and therapy. For example, what best practices exist to include ASL interpretation or Audio Description in sexually explicit media? What accessibility considerations exist around the use of sexual aids for individuals with disabilities? What approaches can improve accessing of education, counseling, and therapy services by individuals with a broad array of ability? 
  • Expand avenues for advocacy, allyship and solidarity both as individuals and professionals. For example, what does allyship mean in movements that are different from one’s own identity/identities? How can one honor the intent of a movement without co-opting the original perspective?
  • Exploring collaboration with professions outside of the field of sexuality in order to better address the needs and desires of our students and clients. For example, how can we as a field support increased sexuality education for ASL interpreters so that they are better able to communicate sexuality-related topics in their work?
  • Affirming examinations of various gender and sexuality related identities that are often less discussed, including: asexuality, bisexuality, trans*, transgender, pansexuality. For example, what are the best practices for including these identities in sexuality education curricula?
  • Building resilience toward handling backlash to creating a more inclusive field. For example, how might advocates communicate that increased inclusion does not diminish the value and experiences of people who are not members of marginalized communities?
  • Exploring ethical issues and perspectives related to sexuality as a whole and our profession specifically. For example, what ethics surround non-consensual contraceptive practices?
  • Reviewing various models of Universal Design for Learning, PLISSIT, and trauma informed approaches.

As a continued commitment to foster professional collaboration, connection, and engagement, the 2016 conference will feature two different panel formats and a new roundtable format. Dialogue panels consist of three panelists, sharing complimentary and divergent perspectives about an idea or concept related to an overall theme. Research panels, by comparison, consist of presenters sharing up to three IRB approved research papers centered around a common theme.  Special Interest Group (SIG) roundtables will consist of between three to five panelists who will each present their idea or concept to broaden knowledge around the SIG’s area of focus. The goal of these panels and roundtables is to create a respectful, engaging environment to explore complementary and divergent perspectives. To submit a proposal for a panel or roundtable format, please identify a theme and the panelists to present briefs on that theme.

In addition to proposals for panel presentations, we also invite submissions for traditional 1 or 1.5 hour workshops and poster presentations related to the overall conference theme, and represent therapeutic, education and research perspectives.

We encourage students, emerging professionals, and first time attendees to submit proposals. Being inspired by our host city’s diverse and rich cultural background, the 2016 AASECT Conference Committee would like to feature a limited number of break out sessions in which Spanish will be the primary or secondary language spoken by the presenter(s). Full details on required inclusion and formatting for all proposals can be found at the proposal submission website, located here.

As you prepare to submit a proposal for AASECT 2016, please note that you will be required to provide the following items. (More details about each of these items are provided on the proposal submission website.) 

  1. Name, contact information and CVs for all presenters
  2. Title of the proposed session
  3. Type of session (poster, panel, roundtable, or workshop)
  4. Short abstract (for publication in the program)
  5. Long abstract (for anonymous review)
  6. SMART Learning objectives (required for CEs)
  7. Session overview and outline
  8. Intended audience (level of expertise)
  9. Identify & Select Appropriate Core Knowledge Areas
  10. Strategies for Accessibility

The deadline for submissions is September 23, 2015.


Melissa Keyes DiGioia, CSE & Mariotta Gary-Smith, MPH

2016 AASECT Annual Conference Co-chairs