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Plan to Testify at Local Board Meetings

How to plan and prepare to testify at:

For School Board Meetings

Things you need to know: 

  • When and where your school board will meet

  • The policy around public comments

    • Where do public comments fall in the agenda? 

    • How long do you have to speak during public comments? 

    • Do you have to register ahead of time to make a public comment? 

  • If there is a dress code for school board meetings. 

How to find your local school board meeting: 

  • Google: “_________ Board of Education Meeting Schedule” 

    • In the blank put your school district, i.e. “Hunterdon County NJ” 
  • Usually, this will take you to your board of education website, which should have: 

    • Meeting schedule 

    • Meeting locations 

    • Prior meeting minutes 

    • The agenda for the upcoming meeting 

Important things to consider: 

  • Safety in numbers – gather supporters and encourage them to attend the meeting 

    • Give out PFLAG stickers to identify that you are with a group – make your numbers visible. 

  • Prepare your remarks ahead of time, know what you are going to say. 

Preparing to Testify:

Preparation is a key component for success.

  1. Find your school board members and their office information 

  2. Figure out your window. When does your school board meet? Follow the instructions in the How to find your local school board meeting section above

  3. Research recent LGBTQ+ issues that have come up before the school board and how members voted. Look into your members’ history to see if you can make a personal connection, and tailor your message to their experience. You can generally find this information with past meeting agendas, which are usually posted publicly on the school board website.

  4. Consider attending a Red, Wine, and Blue Troublemaker Training and watch PFLAG’s in-person lobbying 10 minute video

In the school board meeting

  • Introduce yourself: Mention that you are a constituent and any ties to your community, including your role as a PFLAGer.

  • Introduce the issue: Raise the topic you are there to discuss 

  • Talk about the issue: Have one-to-two talking points about the issue you’re addressing. See our Sample Messaging for PFLAG talking points.

  • Make it personal: Why does this matter to you? Does this issue affect your child? Yourself? Your community? Make sure you relate what you are asking for to a personal experience and a local need. If in person, also bring photos with you to put a real face on what can sometimes be abstract issues for elected officials. Use your emotion to your benefit. 

  • Make the ask: Ask for the school board to support or oppose the proposal you have discussed and explain why we need federal laws to keep our families safe. 

  • Offer to be a resource: Offer them materials you have brought with you, such as one of our policy one-pagers, and any materials you can send them from home. Be clear that you want to continue a relationship and dialogue with them.

  • End on a positive note: Return to a feel-good talking point that leaves a positive impression and shows appreciation to your library board and their staff for listening to your comments.

After your meeting: 

  • Thank them: Send a note to your elected officials thanking them for listening to your comments. Restate any commitments and reiterate your requests. If you promised additional information for the board, be sure to include that along with your note. Offer again to be a resource to your elected officials and stay connected with them, letting them know about live and virtual PFLAG events they or their staffers might want to attend.

  • Be ready for the next meeting: Keep track of future library board meetings and make sure your local network knows about them! Consistently showing up is key!

For Local Library Board Meetings

Things you need to know: 

  • If your local library is on the state, county, or local level.

    • What is it called? Some areas call them Public Libraries, Free Libraries

  • When and where your library board will meet

  • The policy around public comments

    • Where do public comments fall in the agenda? 

    • How long do you have to speak during public comments? 

    • Do you have to register ahead of time to make a public comment? 

  • If there is a dress code for library board meetings. 

How to find your local library board meeting: 

  • Google: “_________ Library Board Meeting Schedule” 

    • In the blank put your library network, i.e. “Hunterdon County Public Library NJ” 

  • Usually, this will take you to your public library website, which should have: 

    • Meeting schedule 

    • Meeting locations 

    • Prior meeting minutes 

    • The agenda for the upcoming meeting 

Important things to consider: 

  • Safety in numbers – gather supporters and encourage them to attend the meeting 

    • Give out PFLAG stickers to identify that you are with a group – make your numbers visible. 

  • Prepare your remarks ahead of time, know what you are going to say. 

Preparing to Testify:

Preparation is a key component for success.

  1. Find your library board members and their office information 

  2. Figure out your window. When does your library board meet? Follow the instructions in the How to find your local library board meeting section above

  3. Research recent LGBTQ+ issues that have come up before the library board and how members voted. Look into your members’ history to see if you can make a personal connection, and tailor your message to their experience. You can generally find this information with past meeting agendas, which are usually posted publicly on the library board website.

  4. Consider attending a Red, Wine, and Blue Troublemaker Training and watch PFLAG’s in-person lobbying 10 minute video

In the library board meeting:

  • Introduce yourself: Mention that you are a constituent and any ties to your community, including your role as a PFLAGer.

  • Introduce the issue: Raise the topic you are there to discuss 

  • Talk about the issue: Have one-to-two talking points about the issue you’re addressing. See our Sample Messaging for PFLAG talking points.

  • Make it personal: Why does this matter to you? Does this issue affect your child? Yourself? Your community? Make sure you relate what you are asking for to a personal experience and a local need. If in person, also bring photos with you to put a real face on what can sometimes be abstract issues for elected officials. Use your emotion to your benefit. 

  • Make the ask: Ask for the library board to support or oppose the proposal you have discussed and explain why we need federal laws to keep our families safe. 

  • Offer to be a resource: Offer them materials you have brought with you, such as one of our policy one-pagers, and any materials you can send them from home. Be clear that you want to continue a relationship and dialogue with them.

  • End on a positive note: Return to a feel-good talking point that leaves a positive impression and shows appreciation to your library board and their staff for listening to your comments.

After your meeting: 

  • Thank them: Send a note to your elected officials thanking them for listening to your comments. Restate any commitments and reiterate your requests. If you promised additional information for the board, be sure to include that along with your note. Offer again to be a resource to your elected officials and stay connected with them, letting them know about live and virtual PFLAG events they or their staffers might want to attend.

  • Be ready for the next meeting: Keep track of future library board meetings and make sure your local network knows about them! Consistently showing up is key!