Psychologists who have been active in public campaigns offer several recommendations for other associations that are considering taking a position on a contentious social issue. They include:
Build consensus, listen and educate. Have a process in place to formally decide whether to take a stand, give members an opportunity to comment and listen to opposing views. If a position is taken, continue to brief members about the issue.
Stress mental health benefits. Emphasize how the issue impacts people’s psychological well-being.
Get in sync with APA resolutions. If APA has already developed a resolution on an issue, draw from it when explaining the proposed action to members.
Rely on research. Build a public case for position based on the most recent, best available research.
APA members interested in working on ballot measures in their state should contact Nathan Smith, PhD, chair of the Public Policy Committee of Div. 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues) for advice and support.