Misinformation and Queer Inclusion Messaging Resources

Dear ROPnet,

Last week we held our third and final session of our fall communications series, On Message, with Meaning, focused on leveling up our communications in time for 2024. Read on for highlights from the session, which focused on managing misinformation and advancing queer inclusion. 

If you’re hungry for more opportunities for skill-building and strategizing with other human dignity leaders, you’re in luck! We’ll be continuing to build our communications and messaging skills at the next Rural Caucus and Strategy Session, which will be on Saturday, April 6 in Woodburn. Join us to share stories about what your community has been working on, connect with groups and community leaders from other parts of the state, and make a plan together for the year ahead! Stay tuned for the registration page, and start chatting with your group about who wants to attend! 

For details on the earlier sessions in the fall communications series, check out these recaps of Values-Based Messaging Featuring Immigrant Justice and Spokesperson Skills Featuring Housing for All.

Read All About It: Managing Misinformation, Advancing Queer Inclusion

On Monday, November 6, 22 people from 11 counties gathered to practice managing misinformation, with a focus on advancing queer inclusion.

Values-Based Messaging

Just like on the Values-Based Messaging Featuring Immigrant Justice and Spokesperson Skills Featuring Housing for All, we reviewed the values-based messaging model called the VPSA (Values-Problem-Solution-Action) with a focus on Queer Inclusion. Here’s the template:

  • Values: Safety and privacy in restrooms are important for all of us. That’s why we already have laws in place that make it illegal to harm or harass people or invade their privacy. Transgender people are part of our workplaces, schools, and neighborhoods, and they need to be able to use the restroom just like everyone else. It’s about basic human dignity and privacy.
  • Problem: Most states still do not have laws that protect transgender people from discrimination in public spaces, including when it comes to being able to use public restrooms – something we all need to do every day. Some states have passed laws saying trans people can be arrested and even prosecuted for using the restroom that matches the gender they live every day. Opponents of 2SLGBTQIA+ equality have seized on people’s unfamiliarity with trans people and spread misinformation to create fear and link concerns about safety in places like restrooms to trans people. This misinformation is a toxic attack used to deny queer and trans people protection from discrimination, enact laws that invite abuse and harassment in public restrooms, deny trans people dignity and equality, and make it virtually impossible for transgender people to go about their daily lives.
  • Solution: Every student should have a fair chance to succeed in school, including trans students [or every transgender person should have a fair chance to succeed in the workplace). We all deserve to live free of risk, harassment, and assault, and that means trans people too.
  • Action: Reject lies and misinformation and support protections for transgender people and safety and privacy in bathrooms on campus and in public spaces and workplaces. Reach out to your elected officials, familiarize yourself with their stances on these issues, and urge them to vote for equitable access.

This message was adapted from the Movement Advancement Project, you can access more of their resources here.

Managing Misinformation

After a brief review of the Values-Problem-Solution-Action (VPSA) messaging model, we dove into how to pivot when we’re asked a question that furthers misinformation or hear misinformation being spread. In our breakouts, we practiced responding to a question about gender-inclusive bathrooms in a way that sticks to our message. Here are some example pivots:

  • “I agree that’s an important point, but more important to this issue is….”
  • “I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know….”
  • “I could speculate, but let’s look at the facts….”
  • “Misinformation and the spreading of lies and fear has no place in our community.  That’s why…..”

Addressing Harmful Rumors and Information

After practicing pivoting away from misinformation that isn’t gaining traction, we learned some handy tools for directly addressing misinformation instead. This may be necessary if it’s spreading widely and has potentially dangerous consequences. One leader on the training brought up that many librarians are also well-versed in these tools and can be great resources for managing harmful misinformation when it comes up in your community.

First, we covered the Three D’s: 

  1. Detect: When and where, by whom
  2. Document: Capture an image with details and context
  3. Debunk: Present truth narratives using the Fact/Fallacy/Fact sandwich: “Vaccines don’t cause [autism]. This myth is spread by anti-vaccine activists to create confusion and mistrust and does not line up with scientific facts about public health. Doctors across the globe have proven that vaccines do not cause autism and are a benefit to the whole society.”

Then we moved on to the Three S’s:

  1. Suspect: Always question the content
  2. Search: Broaden your input, sources, range of info, and data.
  3. Share: Provide context before sharing. 
    • Don’t repost/link on social media.
    • Do take a screenshot if you must share and share only through email, messenger, etc.
    • Don’t comment trying to outsmart them, this attracts more attention to the original source/post. Only if the post is already popular, Do comment with vetted debunking info.
    • Do educate your community to exercise the same discipline.

We learned and grew so much together during this fall communications series, and we can hardly believe it’s over! Hungry for more? If you want to watch the full training recording or get connected to others organizing to manage misinformation or to advance queer inclusion in your area, email us at emma@rop.org!

Warmly,

Emma and the ROP Team

P.S. These trainings were only available in English. If you are interested in Spanish-language communications training, please let us know by emailing emma@rop.org or calling/texting 503-543-8417 as we are eager to continue building upon this training series!

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