- Do your homework:
- A) Find out if anyone ever tried this before in your school or other schools near you. If so, what happened?
- B) Figure out who has the power to put condoms in your school. Is it the principal? The school board? Find out as much as you can about them. What do they care about?
- C) Gather information. Statistics about youth and HIV, rates of STDs, teen pregnancy rates, etc. can all be helpful. Do a survey and find out how many other students want condoms and support you.
- Find Allies:
- Find other students, teachers, parents and community members, and organizations who support condoms in the schools. Some examples of people who might be on your side include: the school nurse; a local AIDS organization; local clinics; especially those that server teens or deal with sexual health issues like Planned Parenthood; students at other schools who've done this already; the health department; local gay/lesbian organizations; etc. Meet with your allies to develop a strategy.
- Try to figure out what kinds of arguments people on the other side will make and how you can get around them. For instance, they may site condom failure rates. But according to the Centers for Disease Control (part of the Federal government) condoms are 98% effective when used correctly and consistently. The main reason for condom failure is improper use, so it makes sense for young people to be taught how to use them.
- Request a meeting with the principal or school board. If you're dealing with the school board, you may want to approach each member individually first. Send a delegation from your group -- if you can, include a variety of people (for instance, a teacher, a parent, and a student). Be prepared to present a convincing argument with lots of information and have materials to give out. Use both statistics and stories. If you can find young people who've gotten HIV, and STD, or become pregnant and are willing to share their stories, their testimony can be very powerful. If you have people who are too uncomfortable to share their own stories, you can present them as things that have happened to friends, without mentioning names. Make sure your requests are simple and clear.
- If the principal or school board member is not on your side, listen carefully to the arguments he/she is making. Try to figure out what his/her concerns are. This will determine your next step. If the prinicpal/school board is worried about what parents will think, then you need to get parents who are on your side to speak out. If the issue is paying for the condoms, then you could offer to raise the money. Sometimes the oppostion's concerns will not be rational -- they may be based, for instance, on personal religious beliefs, and you will not be able to change that.
- Negotiate Some More:
- If talking to and reasoning with the person in power fails, you may be able to go over his/her head. For instance, the principal of your school has a boss -- the school district if it is a public school, or the Board of Trustees if it is private. Find out who is next in the power structure. Go up a level and try making your case again. As you work your way up, you may eventually come to an elected official on either the State or local level. Remember that elected officials are especially sensitive to pressure. Keep trying to negotiate until you have been turned down at every possible level.
- Take Action:
- Once you've made your case and been turned down by everyone who could possibly give you what you want, it's time for presure tactics.
- Do It Yourself:
- One type of action that's specific to the condom (also clean-needle) issue, is a distribution. To distribute condoms, either create your own flier about how to use condoms or get one from somewhere else (fell free to copy the one in YELL 'zine #1. If you don't have zine #1, e-mail us!) Wrap the flier around the condom, tape the condom in, and hand them out. You may also want to hand out other items, like dental dams or latex gloves for people performing sexual activities that don't involve penises. Decide ahead of time whether or not you will stop. If you decide not to stop, you may get in trouble and even be suspended. Be sure you have legal help in case this happens. Your other option is to hand out condoms off school property, standing somewhere that sutdents pass by but that is not on school grounds.
- If Nothing Works:
- Remember that schools are not the only places young people go. Figure out where young people in you community spend their time. Hand out condoms and flyers wherever young people are. This way, your peers are getting life-saving information even if the schools won't give it to them.
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It Worked In Our School!