By Tierra Ortiz-Rodriguez. Dignity/Houston Community Organizer
On August 4, three Dignity/Houston members attended the Equality Texas Project Training. On their website, the Equality Texas Foundation describes the Equality Project: "The Equality Project is a public education program on policy issues and their effect on Texas citizens. The Project also trains supporters of equality to establish relationships with their state representatives and senators, and to advocate for policy changes with their elected officials. The Project aims to engage the public in maintaining continuous conversations with their elected officials about public policy matters that directly impact their lives. It is these conversations about real people's lives that will ultimately motivate policy changes to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression."
Our members shared that the session was very informative in providing practical tips on how to meet and establish relationships with elected officials in order to promote LGBT issues in the Texas legislature. Some take-home messages that they shared include:
- When visiting your reps, tell your story using personal language that addresses how discrimination impacts your life, why you believe discrimination is wrong, what changes you would like your rep to support, and why you believe equality is right. Use "I statements" and feeling words ("I feel that this law is wrong. When I saw my brother's difficulty with adoption, it hurt me because....") as these will be most ef- fective and memorable.
- When it comes to contacting your reps, the order of least to most effective means of communication is: email, phone call, letter/fax, and face-to-face meeting. The best strategy? Using a combination of the four methods!
- It always helps to have a friend go with you to speak to your district officials. Power in numbers!
- Invite members of the legislature to attend one of your community events, as this will provide a means of human connection, and will put a face to your community needs.
- Did you know the legislative session starts on Jan. 8, 2013? That means that it is really important to start visiting your elected officials now so that the issues that are important to you are on their radar.
The Equality Texas Project Training will be returning to Houston on September 15, so be sure to sign up to learn how you can become an advocate and activist. Register at https://hq- equalityfederation.salsalabs.com/o/35034/p/salsa/ event/common/public/index.sjs? event_KEY=1867&utm_source=Dignity+Houston+N ewsletter&utm_campaign=c22a88162b- July_2012_Newsletter7_6_2012&utm_medium=emai l. Lunch is free!