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Messaging Guides: Talking About LGBT Issues Series

The Talking About LGBT Issues series is a set of research-based resources designed to help shape discussions with conflicted or undecided Americans—and help them better understand key issues of importance to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

In conversations about marriage, employment protections and non-discrimination laws, adoption and parenting, military service or hate crimes, it can often be easy to fall back on abstract jargon or angry rhetoric that can derail discussions with those who are not familiar with the issues. These guides offer ways that LGBT organizations, community members and allies alike can build common ground with moveable audiences, show them how their actions (or inaction) can hurt gay and transgender people, and help them understand issues of LGBT equality through the lenses of their own values and beliefs.

Equality for LGBT people is really about basic human values and needs: the ability of everyday Americans to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love. And when we move away from abstract, technical language and toward discussions that connect people to common ground and common values, true understanding can take root. The Talking About LGBT Issues series is geared toward helping those who are conflicted or undecided better understand the issues, and toward helping them recognize the importance of and need for their support.


Talking About Religious Exemptions & Service Discrimination

March 2017 - Several states have proposed legislation to allow businesses to discriminate against customers who don’t conform to the specific religious beliefs that marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman, and that sex should be restricted to such marriages. Learn how to have effective conversations and broaden people's understanding of these laws and how they encourage discrimination against same-sex couples, unmarried couples and individuals, single parents, and others.


Talking About Religious Exemptions & Adoption Discrimination

March 2017 - Some states have introduced legislation to create broad religious exemptions allowing discrimination in taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care services. Such laws would allow adoption agencies and child services workers to make decisions for children in their care based on their religious beliefs, rather than the best interests of the child. Learn how to talk about these harmful laws which deprive children of loving homes.


Talking About Transgender Students & School Facilities Access

January 2017 - As part of ongoing efforts to protect transgender people from discrimination, there is growing momentum to ensure that transgender students have a fair chance at educational success. This guide provides high-level messaging to help build support for policies and laws that protect transgender students and their ability to access school facilities that match their gender identity.


Talking About Nondiscrimination Protections for LGBT People

Updated January 2017 - Learn about conversation approaches that can help build and sustain solid, lasting support for LGBT nondiscrimination laws, and also factually and effectively address concerns that might be raised when discussing the need for such protections. En español: Cómo hablar sobre protecciones antidiscriminatorias para personas LGBT


Talking About Transgender People & Restrooms

August 2016 - Explore approaches for talking about transgender people and restrooms in a variety of contexts, including: building support for (and calming concerns about) nondiscrimination protections, opposing harmful anti-transgender bathroom ban laws, and more.


Talking About Religious Exemptions Laws

May 2016 - Read about approaches for effective conversations about harmful religious exemptions that threaten not only laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination, but also access to health care (including women's reproductive health), public safety, and more.


An Ally's Guide to Terminology: Talking About LGBT People & Equality

Updated January 2017 - The language we use to talk about LGBT people and issues can have a powerful impact on our discussions. The right words can open hearts and minds, while others can create confusion, distance or a sense of being overwhelmed.


An Ally's Guide to Talking About Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

April 2014 - To build and sustain support for the freedom to marry, focus on the values of marriage, emphasize why caring people don't deny others the chance of happiness in marriage, share stories of the journey to support, and more.


Talking About LGBT Equality: Overall Approaches

September 2011 - The pursuit of equality is about everyday Americans who want the same chance as everyone else to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love.


Talking About Suicide & LGBT Populations

November 2013 - Safe public discussions about suicide can play a critical role in increasing acceptance of LGBT people and supporting their well-being, while minimizing the risk of a phenomenon known as suicide contagion.


Talking About LGBT Equality With African Americans

October 2011 - An overwhelming majority of African Americans agree that LGBT people experience discrimination. However using term “civil rights” to describe LGBT equality can hinder those conversations and that support.


Talking About LGBT Equality With Latinos & Hispanics

September 2011 - Latinos tend to be strong supporters of fairness and equality for LGBT people, and conversations that focus on shared values of family, respect, faith and opposition to discrimination can build even greater acceptance.


An Ally’s Guide to Talking About Adoption by LGBT Parents

June 2012 - Focus conversations about parenting, adoption and LGBT parents on how they create loving, stable homes for kids and help ensure that children have the nurturing environment that allows them to thrive and succeed.


Talking About Inclusive Hate Crimes Laws

May 2009 - This report, developed prior to the passage of the inclusive federal hate crimes law in 2009, focuses on emphasizing the overwhelming public support for LGBT-inclusive hate crimes laws, and sharing stories that illustrate how LGBT people have been targeted for and hurt by violent hate crimes.