The “Tsunami Strategy” is very effective and can be used 1) to stop CSE programs and replace them with less harmful and more effective abstinence-based sex ed programs, or 2) to advance abstinence-supportive sex education laws or policies at the state or local level. The “Tsunami Strategy” was created after studying multiple school board debates and state legislative hearings where battles over competing sex education policies and programs ensued.
On one side—insisting on mandatory CSE programs—is usually Planned Parenthood or one of their affiliates like Advocates for Youth, as well as LGBT advocacy groups or LGBT individuals and youth who have been trained through their youth advocacy programs. CSE advocates will also try to bring in likeminded legislators, teachers, lawyers, university professors, medical and mental health professionals and sometimes LGBT-identifying religious leaders.
On the other side—fighting for parental rights and abstinence education—are usually conservative parents and religious leaders, sometimes with a smattering of youth and experts. If the conservative side is to win these policy and curriculum battles, we must come to the debates with the same preparation, coordination and firepower as those fighting for CSE. This not a battle for the faint of heart.
So what exactly is the “Tsunami Strategy?”
It is the coordination of multiple, well-written, effective statements that build on each other (a minimum of 30 statements if possible), presented by individuals at school board meetings or legislative hearings, all aimed at the specific policy objective of protecting children from CSE, and to support abstinence-based, sexual-risk avoidance sex education.
Steps for Effective Implementation of the “Tsunami Strategy”
Step 1. Identify a specific, long-term policy goal. Choose one main goal depending on your situation and stick with it. Sample goals could include:
Step 2. Identify the opposition’s policy goals, main arguments and talking points. This could entail:
Step 3. Decide on your short-term objective for the next public hearing or meeting. You may want to have a different objective for each meeting if there will be a series of hearings or meetings. See, for example, statements with talking points that were successfully used for the sole purpose of pressuring a local school board into posting the entire CSE curriculum they were preparing to adopt for parental review. The short-term objective for that specific meeting was to get the board to publicly post the curriculum to allow for review. This was necessary to ultimately achieve the long-term goal, which was to stop the board from adopting the curriculum in a subsequent vote. Click here for these statements.
Step 4. Craft 30 statements that all ask for the same action to be taken. It is critical that they all ask for the same action so there is no confusion about what a large segment of the community wants. Sample statements with effective talking points on many sex education issues (transgender ideology, abortion, abstinence, sex ed research, parental rights, CSE curriculum examples, etc.) can be found in the “Defenders’ Tool Kit at StopCSE.org. For sample statements that were successfully used to stop a state school board from liberalizing the sex education laws, click here.
Tips for creating effective statements for the “Tsunami Strategy”:
1. Make sure statements are handed out to speakers well in advance of the meeting if possible so you are not seen handing them out.
2. If your objective is related to curriculum, have many different quotes directly from controversial sections scattered throughout the various statements.
3. Ideally, each statement should give a different reason for why the legislative body or school board you may be addressing should take the action you have identified as your goal. Try to vary the wording and to place the ask sometimes at the beginning and other times at the end.
4. If you have been able to form a coalition, the first statement should announce all the organizations involved to show widespread support for your position. (See How to Organize a Coalition.)
5. Write the talking points in a very respectful, non-attacking way. You want your side to come off as likeable and reasonable.
6. Ensure your points are non-religious as you won’t be listened to if you insist that your religious views be taught to other students.
7. Do not have points that attack sex ed in general as you will then be considered irrelevant to the discussion.
8. Do not say parents are the only ones who should teach sex ed, even if it is true because their response will be that you can teach what you want at home, and you can just opt out.
9. Support your points with peer-reviewed research wherever possible. (For example, if you’re trying to get rid of a curriculum because it promotes abortion, special LGBT rights, or gender ideology be sure to support your reasons with peer-reviewed research and medical facts.)
10. Make some statements short and some longer, but the longest should not exceed the allowed time limit.
11. If you have more people in attendance than prepared statements, encourage them to also sign up to speak. Have them take note of one or more of the strongest points made on your side and simply state that they support those points.
12. Modify your statements to support your goal for the next meeting so they aren’t an exact repeat.
Step 5. Hold an emergency parents’ or stakeholders’ meeting to recruit as many people as possible to present your talking points.
Seek to recruit parents, youth, pastors, teachers, students, doctors, people with victim stories as the other side will present many fake “victims” of abstinence education. Provide a training session by Zoom or conference call to share tips for delivering effective statements. Distribute “Quick Tips for Delivering Effective Statements” to all your volunteers. You will find if you have really good statements already prepared for people, they will be more likely to speak up or even come to the meeting when they otherwise might not have.