Meeting with education policy makers (administrators, Board members) and their staff can be an effective way of obtaining their support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. It is essential that they hear directly from youth and other youth advocates!
Get together before the meeting with all attendees. If other people from your agency or state will be attending the meeting with your representative, take some time to coordinate your information. In most cases, your time will be limited and you will want to present the issues faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth in a succinct manner.
Set an agenda. Discuss the information you would like to present during the meeting and the information you would like to get from the meeting. Discuss the format of your meeting and decide who will bring up each issue. Let everyone participate!
Choose a leader. This person is responsible for facilitating the meeting and will introduce the group to your representative.
Start with the positive. Even if the education policy maker/staff is not knowledgeable about issues affecting gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth, thank her/him for anything positive they have done on youth issues or at least for meeting with you.
State your position clearly. Be clear about why you are meeting with them -- to provide them with information on gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth and to discuss how they can help to meet the needs of these young people. Personalize the issues by giving examples from your program or experience as a young person. Keep the meeting focused -- don't allow a education policy maker/staff to get side tracked.
Ask specific questions. Ask the education policy maker/staff questions that prompt clear answers on her/his position or thoughts on how to better meet the needs of gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth. Try to receive some commitment before the meeting ends (i.e., speaking out or voting against anti-gay legislation) -- even if it is a commitment to keep an open mind.
Provide information. Answer any questions the education policy maker/staff raises and provide background materials if possible. If you cannot answer a question say so and work to get the information after the meeting and send it to them. Only commit to those activities you can actually fulfill!
Summarize the commitments made during the meeting. The group leader should try to restate the commitments made during the meeting (i.e., participants will send follow up materials on gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth; education policy maker will meet with gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth and their families in their home town.).
Thank them for meeting with you. For many education policy makers/staff, this might be the first time they have met with people to discuss gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth. Thank them for taking the time to meet with you.
Debrief after the meeting. Talk about how you felt about the meeting, what issues need follow up, and who will take on follow up responsibilities.
Write a thank you letter. Everyone should write their own letter and provide any additional information that was discussed.
Maintain contact through follow-up call and letters. As issues develop, you may want to check in with the members/staff to see if they are aware of how gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth will be impacted or if the office needs any additional information.
*Adapted from materials developed by the Human Rights Campaign, Washington, DC.
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Last updated 2/14/96 by Jean Richter, richter@eecs.Berkeley.EDU