The Kink Education Code of Conduct (KECC) establishes a code of conduct for kink educators and producers. It provides practical guidance for navigating many of the ethical dilemmas we face and creates a framework for clear communication between educators and producers.
The KECC is a roadmap for reasonable human beings, not a precise legal code. You should interpret it using good judgment and good faith, seeking always to adhere to the spirit of the code.
This is the full version of the KECC.
Each section of the KECC has three parts:
The educator parts are applicable to anyone who teaches. Depending on individual circumstances, they may also be relevant to leaders and performers.
The producer parts are for anyone who hires or hosts educators.
The discussion parts provide background information and explain some of the reasoning behind the KECC.
I consistently practice excellent consent in private and in public. Excellent consent is:
I practice and model excellent consent during my classes:
We actively promote a healthy consent culture at our events:
Because students learn how to practice kink by emulating their teachers, it is particularly important that educators model excellent consent. An educator who plays fast and loose with consent during demos encourages students to do the same in their personal lives. It is vital that educators not only have consent during demos, but make it clear that they have consent.
Prior negotiation with a demo partner can be used to demonstrate your consent practices to your class. If your prior negotiations are written, you might provide a copy to your students. If they were verbal, you might repeat a segment of the conversation in front of the class.
For better or worse, students learn from educators’ personal lives as well as from what they see in the classroom. An educator who practices shoddy consent outside the classroom sets a harmful example: a responsible educator must practice what they preach.
I am mindful of the consent risks and the power differential associated with doing demos in a class setting. Keeping in mind some demos have more consent risks than others, I avoid putting any student in a situation where their ability to give meaningful consent is compromised. In order of preference:
I do not pressure anyone into volunteering:
I accept responsibility for taking care of student volunteers:
Because of the consent risks associated with using students for demos:
Using student volunteers for class demos is a popular practice among both students and educators. When it goes well, it makes classes more fun and interactive. However, there are multiple challenges with using student volunteers that increase the risk of consent violations:
Taken together, these factors mean using students for demos is an intrinsically high-risk activity. We encourage educators and producers to consider adopting more restrictive policies than the KECC based on what is appropriate to their circumstances.
As part of teaching good consent practices, educators must ensure that every student demo clearly models good consent. If an educator allows a student to volunteer another student based on an existing power exchange relationship, that relationship must be explained to the class.
I teach within my area of expertise:
When teaching any topic in the domain of a particular profession—for example physical fitness, stretching and warmup, anatomy, nerves, blood play, breath play, hypnosis, trauma response, mental health, legal issues, or any kind of medical play—I explicitly tell my students whether:
I respect each person’s right to choose their own risk profile:
We provide high-quality education and give our students the information they need to make informed decisions about risk:
Kink is a niche field and much of what we do falls outside the expertise of existing professions. There are no professional standards for breath play, for example, and many medical professionals have licensing concerns that prevent them from teaching needle play. It is therefore inevitable and appropriate that kink education is largely the domain of expert amateurs. The lack of formal certification, however, requires us to be diligent about our expertise.
In order to practice informed consent, students need accurate information about risk. Because students by definition lack the expertise to evaluate the information they are being taught, it is imperative that educators a) teach accurate information and b) clearly disclose their level of expertise.
I treat everyone in a respectful manner and make them feel welcome:
We strive to be inclusive and we believe that diversity among our staff and educators is vital to that effort:
Our events are safe and welcoming to all attendees:
Understanding that this isn’t feasible in all cases, we encourage producers to track and publish data about the diversity of their staff and educators.
We recommend having a plan for supporting people who are triggered or experience trauma during an event.
We recommend training staff on diversity and inclusion practices, when possible.
A microaggression is a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority. Microaggressions may not be intended to be negative, but are still discriminatory in nature.
Microaggressions are a common reason that members of many marginalized groups feel uncomfortable in the broader kink community. We recommend training staff and educators about microaggressions and how their presence in a classroom can create an unwelcoming and hostile environment.
There are three types of microaggressions:
Micro–assaults are most akin to conventional racism. They are conscious and explicit racial or derogatory actions that are intended to hurt. For example, intentionally serving a white person before a person of color or deliberately referring to an Asian person as “Oriental.”
Micro–insults are unconscious communications that demean a person from a marginalized group. Examples include a teacher not calling on students of color, fetishizing a person of color, or a white person asking a person of color “how did you get your job?”, implying that they are not qualified and got the job because of affirmative action or a quota program.
Micro-invalidation minimizes or disregards the thoughts, feelings or experiences of a member of a marginalized group. A white person asserting to a person of a color that they "don't see color" or that "we are all human beings" are examples.
I hold myself accountable for my actions and enable the community to help hold me accountable:
We hold ourselves and our educators accountable to our community and the individuals we serve:
We define accountability to mean a process for addressing and rectifying actions that are inconsistent with our values and commitments. While there is substantial individual variation in values, we hope that this Code of Conduct will serve as a starting point for educators and producers to articulate and commit to shared values. None of us are perfect, and we fully expect that we will all fail to adhere to these values from time to time. Our accountability processes exist to help us recognize and learn from these lapses.
The kink world is still in the process of developing best practices around accountability and we expect that this section of the KECC will evolve significantly over time. An emerging practice that we feel has substantial merit is the use of accountability circles and accountability contacts. The definitions of an accountability contact or circle are not consistent throughout the kink community, but the following are the definitions we are using in this document.
An accountability contact is a trusted person who has agreed to: 1) serve as the point of contact for anyone who has a safety or consent concern and 2) act as a repository of information about safety and consent incidents. Both individuals and organizations may have more than one accountability contact. Accountability contacts are usually part of an accountability circle, if one exists.
An accountability circle is a group of people who provide advice and if necessary coordinate an accountability process. Members of an accountability circle may or may not also be accountability contacts.
As you put together your accountability structure, we recommend that you consider the following:
To encourage impartiality, your accountability contact should not be a romantic or play partner, business associate, or close friend. Some people in your accountability circle may fall into those categories, but at least some in the circle should not.
Having multiple accountability contacts ensures that people with concerns about you can still express them even if they aren’t comfortable with one specific individual.
Accountability contacts and members of an accountability circle should be diverse, provide a range of perspectives, and feel approachable to all members of the kink community. In particular, you should make sure that your circle contains racial, gender, and role diversity.
Choose people who are trusted by you and by your community at large.
Even if you have more than one accountability contact, a single person should be designated as the central repository for all information about you, to assist in identifying problematic patterns of behavior.
I maintain professional boundaries during classes:
If I choose to engage in any kind of sex, play, or romance with a current or former student, I do so with great thought and care:
Before beginning a mentoring relationship, I explicitly negotiate boundaries around play, sex, and romance. If I expect sex or play in exchange for mentoring, I am explicit about that at the outset.
We have clear written standards for relationships between educators and students and share those with educators prior to them teaching.
Recognizing this is a highly controversial topic, the KECC does not include a blanket prohibition on relationships between educators and students. We believe, however, that a blanket prohibition is preferable in most cases and we strongly recommend both educators and producers adopt such a policy, depending on their values and circumstances.
As you formulate your policy, keep the following considerations in mind:
We recommend producers publish their policy.
Be mindful also of the potential pitfalls and conflicts of interest associated with producers having relationships with educators. It isn’t necessarily unethical to hire a partner as an educator, but it is certainly unethical to trade professional opportunities for sex or play.
I am a professional:
We carefully select educators who meet a high bar for knowledge, expertise, safety, and consent:
We are professionals:
We hold our educators to a high bar and support them in meeting that bar:
We require all educators adhere to the KECC while working with us.
If we help cover travel expenses for a visiting educator, we require they adhere to the KECC during their entire stay in our city.
We clearly communicate our expectations to educators, including providing them with any written policies that go beyond the KECC.
We support educators in understanding and meeting our standards, especially if their local consent culture is different from ours.
We have a policy about how to handle attendees who are known consent violators or have a history of safety issues.
As influential role models, educators who model poor practices in their classes or their personal lives can do substantial and lasting damage to a community. Whether we like it or not, booking an educator provides them with status, access to potential victims, and the de facto endorsement of the venue or organization.
In order to protect their communities as well as their own reputations, it is therefore imperative producers put great care into selecting the educators they work with. As part of that vetting process, producers should solicit relevant information from educators and also consult outside sources.
To reduce the amount of paperwork associated with applying to different venues, we encourage producers to share educator questionnaires with other venues when possible.
At a minimum, producers should ask the following questions of all educators:
Although asking for references can be useful, references supplied by an educator don’t provide adequate vetting on their own. Producers should consult with other, more objective sources of information. We particularly recommend that you talk to the education coordinators at venues where prospective educators have previously taught.
In addition, Shay and Tame Lioness run the Kink Producer Network Group, which is an excellent resource for vetting educators.
Regardless of the source of information, producers should treat the information gathered with appropriate confidentiality. Producers should limit access to confidential information to individuals who have a compelling need for it.
Just as producers should vet educators, educators have the right to vet venues and producers. There are venue owners and producers that either explicitly or implicitly condone questionable consent practices. Well-regarded educators teaching at these venues give a de facto endorsement of the venue and associated persons. Therefore, educators should consider asking producers about the venue’s consent and accountability policies.
I proactively provide producers with complete and accurate information about:
I respect other people’s right to freely discuss their experiences with me:
I respect everyone’s right to hold private discussions about educators and venues:
We prioritize the privacy of our attendees and educators:
If we choose to share information about potentially harmful individuals with other producers, we always prioritize maintaining the privacy and safety of anyone who was harmed by the individual in question.
While prioritizing attendee privacy, we endeavor to be open about any consent incidents or injuries that occur at our events.
Balancing privacy and disclosure is one of the hardest challenges we face.
On the one hand, kink is a highly stigmatized activity and many educators as well as attendees have a critical need to maintain their privacy. In addition, many of us prefer to keep our intimate lives private, especially the parts that are painful to us.
On the other hand, secrecy allows serial abusers to access a steady stream of new victims who don’t know their history and therefore can’t give informed consent to engage with them. We believe students have a right to make an informed choice about who they take classes from, which means they have a right to know if educators have a pattern of injuries or consent violations.
There are no easy answers to these questions and no clearly established best practices for navigating them. In many cases, the need to disclose information about a consent violation or injury can be in conflict with the need to maintain the victim’s privacy. The KECC Collective continues to work on best practices for individual and community-level disclosure and privacy and we expect this section of the KECC will evolve significantly in the future.
In the meantime, we encourage you to consider the following principles: