When speaking to a journalist or reporter about gay and transgender issues, remember to connect by emphasizing common ground, highlight examples of concrete harms and connect through storytelling. Below are some examples of how you can incorporate issues that are important to the LGBT community while answering broader questions that affect the general populace.
Interviewer: One of the biggest issues on our mind today is the economy. What are your thoughts—is our economy improving or should we expect an even longer recession?
Rep. XXX: I think that we’re certainly on the path to recovery, and I know that we at the State House are focused on advancing policies that will help create jobs around the state. Helping all of our state’s residents provide for their families should be our top priority right now—and I want to bring your attention to a serious issue that’s affecting many of our fellow citizens. Today, our state has no law protecting our gay and transgender brothers and sisters from discrimination in the workplace or in the hiring process. Gay and transgender people want the same thing as everyone else—to earn a living and provide for their families.
Interviewer: In these tough economic times, do you feel employment and housing discrimination is a problem in America?
Rep. XXX: It is definitely a problem, and one that needs to be fixed. I strongly believe that all Americans, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity should be given the same opportunities and protections under the law. The African American community is particularly familiar with the ways discrimination hurts families. Kicking a hardworking, law abiding citizen to the street simply because they are different is not the American way.
Interviewer: One topic that is finally getting some attention in the media is violence and bullying in our schools. Can you talk about this and explain why it’s essential to stop and prevent this behavior?
Rep. XXX: We have seen a number of tragic stories of children committing suicide because of this type of harassment. How long will we let this continue before we collectively stand up and say school violence is unacceptable? Protecting our students, ALL of our students is something I’m committed to and I hope parents and educators out there are as well. Gay and transgender youth, in particular, can be a target for bullies—nine out of ten have been a target of harassment in the past year, and three-fifths of these kids say that they feel unsafe. If you think about it, kids who are afraid of their peers are not going to be able to focus on their schoolwork and will likely fall behind. As a community we need to make sure we’re protecting every child, but we also need to have dialogue within our schools to make sure there is a tolerant and accepting environment for all students.
Interviewer: Do you think that someone in a committed, long-term relationship should have the ability to visit the person they love in the hospital?
Rep XXX: Providing legal protections for all Americans is certainly important. I think we can all empathize with the hospital visitation situation you mentioned. Relationships are about loving and supporting one another through thick and thin. During the most trying times in life, we all should be able to have our loved ones at our side, and should not have the undue stress of a loved one being unable to provide care and support due to a technicality.
Interviewer: What would you say to someone that believes gay people are immoral and different so therefore should be treated differently?
Rep XXX: I would assume this person hasn’t had the opportunity or simply hasn’t taken the time to get to know many gay or transgender people. The truth is gay Americans have many of the same values as every American. They love their families, attend church, serve our country and work hard. Gay Americans don’t want preferential treatment; like all Americans, gay individuals simply want to be treated equally and justly under the law.