What to Ask for
People can’t help you unless you’re clear about what you want.
Articulating your values in terms of attainable, concrete changes is the single most powerful factor separating those who are effective at making a difference and those who aren’t.
You need to define your solution as thoughtfully as you frame the problem. It often helps to gather feedback from allies, politicians, and others to assess how realistic your goal is. We’re not suggesting you cave to the opposing side, but you should be aware of others’ objections and be ready to address them.
Also, learn the pros and cons of asking for a lot versus asking for a little. When you enact small changes, and the sky does not fall, that often opens the doorway for more changes. For example, schools often oppose Gay Straight Alliance clubs on the basis that it “promotes homosexuality.” If you ask for something small, like the right to have meetings after-school like other clubs, and the entire high school gay does not “turn gay”, your next demand may be met with much less resistance.
Here are some examples of what other community activists have asked for:
If you care about civil liberties
Ask your City Council to pass a resolution saying they will not enforce the Patriot Act.
If you care about immigrants’ rights
Ask your local decision makers to support legislation aimed at stopping local law enforcement from engaging in racial profiling.
If you care about education
Ask your School Board and PTA to oppose counterproductive disciplinary policies and demand that all students, including LGBT students, are treated equally.
If you care about reproductive freedom
Ask your local medical board to come out against censoring information on contraception or family planning. Ask your community’s health centers to lend their support.
Once you know what to ask for, then you can start to put together your plan. Check out this video on the importance of putting together a political elevator pitch quickly summing up the problem and what can be done.