Outreach to college or high school students is a great way to spread the pro-life message. Unlike a typical busy adult, students have time to stop and have a conversation about abortion.
State universities and community colleges are public institutions open to the public and therefore must allow free speech. Courts have held, however, that the schools may place reasonable “time, place, and manner” restrictions on free speech to prevent disruption to classes and the operation of the school.
Research the campus free speech policy
Most campuses have a designated “free speech area” in the center part of the campus. Many campuses request that you sign in before using the free speech area or that you call before you come. Many prohibit amplified sound. If you cannot find the rules for your local campus by searching “free speech” on the school website, call the school’s main number and be prepared to be transferred several times before someone can answer your questions about the free speech area.
We generally ask, “Hi, I would like to come onto campus to talk to students and distribute information and I’m wondering if you have a free speech policy. Whom should I talk to about that?”
Recruit helpers and gather materials
Once you know the rules, recruit a friend or two and gather your materials. You can order literature from Human Life Alliance or another pro-life organization and you can order sign materials from Created Equal. You could also check with your local pregnancy center to see if they have educational materials you can use, such as fetal models, if you want to set your display on a table.
Some groups make a poster board sign to display on their table with a question and the opportunity for students to mark their answers. For instance: “Should abortion remain legal?” The question draws people in from both sides of the debate and creates conversations.
A visual display helps reach students with whom you never have personal contact, but is not necessary. You can also simply stand on a walkway with an armload of literature to distribute.
If you are just distributing literature, your best bet is to approach people and offer them a piece of literature with an outstretched hand, a smile, and a question: “Did you get one yet?” If you act like passersby should want it, they frequently do. If your body language suggests that you are embarrassed by what you are offering, they won’t want it. Avoid making it sound boring, for example: “Can I give you some literature?” Or: “Would you like a pamphlet about abortion?”
If you have a display, you can people who stop to look at it, “What do you think about abortion?” Then follow our dialogue tips.
It’s okay if people get angry. Listen while they speak their minds and then gently ask questions to find out why they are so angry and why they think what they do about abortion.
Maybe she had an abortion. Maybe her roommate had an abortion and she blames “people like you” for making her feel bad. Maybe he pressured his girlfriend to have an abortion and feels guilty.
If school administration or police hassle you or unreasonably restrict your free speech, call Life Legal Defense Foundation.
High school campuses are not open to the public, so unless you are officially invited to give a presentation in the school, your outreach to the students must take place off campus.
Research the high schools
Scope out the exits at your local high school campuses. Are most students picked up by parents in a parking lot and then driven out a driveway? Do most of them walk home from school? Is there one big exit or multiple exits?
Check the school’s bell schedule.
Recruit helpers and gather materials
Once you have picked a location and day and found out when dismissal is, recruit a few friends. You can order literature from Human Life Alliance or another pro-life organization and you can order sign materials from Created Equal.
Arrive with enough time to station yourselves at the various exits, where the students make their way onto the public sidewalk. Offer literature to the students with an outstretched hand, a smile, and a question: “Did you get one yet?”
You can also offer literature to parents waiting in cars along the curb or to passengers in vehicles as cars leave the parking lots.
School security guards or police might talk to you. They will probably tell you that you cannot be on school property, which is true. They might try to tell you that the public sidewalk is school property, which is not true.
If you are unsure whether or not the sidewalk is public, comply with their requests to move to public property, but then call Life Legal Defense Foundation. If it turns out to be public property, schedule another outreach to go back and reach the students you missed while talking to the police.