Guidelines for speaking out

* Educate yourself about the issues. Read. Explore the internet. Go to meetings. Know the issue. Decide how you feel. Then speak out where you will be heard–contact key officials, go to board meetings, write letters to the editor, call in on talk shows, send e-mails.

* It takes many people to create change, not just one very strong individual. Beware of people who want to be the only one in charge or the only one speaking out. Circumvent them as kindly as possible.

* Treat others with dignity, compassion and respect, listening to their views and challenging them when necessary..Insist that others treat you well, even when you are saying things that they don’t want to hear.

* Stay as calm as possible when speaking out. Don’t “lose your cool.” You can let out your frustration when you are alone or with good friends.

* As you find your voice, you may be tempted to talk too much–to go on and on and on. This is never a good idea. If you do this, you silence the voices of others who also need to be heard. Strongly and briefly make your point. Then give others their chance to speak. Again, it is the voices of many, not just one, that will make the difference!

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