Human Rights Activism Opportunities

  • Prohibit Mass Surveillance via @EFF - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Prohibit Mass Surveillance.

    For the background on today’s activism, I must channel my inner Thom Hartmann: This is mostly Ronald Reagan’s fault.

    In 1981, President Reagan signed an executive order — number 12333 — which, according to our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is: "the primary authority under which the country’s intelligence agencies conduct the majority of their operations.”

    This means NSA spying and mass surveillance.

    So, despite recent bills in Congress designed to curtail mass telephone surveillance, the NSA’s primary surveillance authority has been left unchallenged. The good news is that the fix is easy and the president seems open to using the final two years of his administration to do things unilaterally. Why it took so long to come to that conclusion is a mystery, but let’s take advantage of it now that it’s happened.

    The petition — available at under the “Take Action” tab — asks for the president to reform Executive Order 12333 and issue a new order that “prohibits the United States from engaging in mass surveillance of digital communications.”

    The effects of this order have been somewhat hidden. According PEN America’s report “Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers,” a survey of nearly 800 writers worldwide found that 75% of those living in democracies have engaged in self-censorship. Writers en mass now fear that their governments will not respect their right to privacy and freedom of expression — a seriously troubling trend.

    We already know far too little about our country’s law enforcement agencies and programs. If this trend continues, what’s left of our “Fourth Estate” watch dog press will decline even further. So, sign the EFF petition "Tell Obama: Stop Mass Surveillance Under Executive Order 12333” to curb the practice and restore — at least in part — our freedom of the press.

    Also, please take a minute to sign the petitions in the “Additional Activism” section of the segment notes. EFF is trying to prevent the Federal Elections Commission from adding harmful regulations to online political speech that could disproportionately impact free platforms like YouTube — and therefore all of us who use YouTube content. The comment period ends this week, so time is short. There is also a petition from the ACLU urging the president to use the power of the executive order to stop mass surveillance.

    Privacy, security, and Free Speech have always existed with tension. It is our job as citizens to demand our legislators and courts maintain a balance that errs on the side of uninhibited speech that promotes free thought and democracy.


    SIGN the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) petition: "Tell Obama: Stop Mass Surveillance Under Executive Order 12333”

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Leave a comment for the Federal Elections Commission via EFF: "No New Regulation for Online Political Speech”

    SIGN the ACLU pledge: "Invasion of the Data Snatchers”

    Sources/further reading:

    "PEN America: "'The Harm Caused by Unmistakable’” via EFF

    "Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers” from PEN American Center

    "The Fight in Congress to End the NSA’s Mass Spying: 2014 in Review” at EFF

    "ACLU accuses NSA of using holiday lull to ‘minimise impact’ of documents” by Nicky Woolf at The Guardian

    "US tries to strike deal with EU for immunity over online security breaches” by Phillip Inman at The Guardian

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #890 "Why privacy matters (NSA Spying)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Support Survivors With @KnowYourIX - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Support Survivors With Know Your IX.

    This episode happened because sexual assault at colleges and universities is at an epidemic level. That the Rolling Stone reporter was bad at her job and may have coerced sensationalized details doesn’t change the pertinent fact: one in five female students will be assaulted during their time on campus. These students will regularly not be believed, have little legal recourse, be forced to transfer, be expelled for reporting, end up saddled with tens of thousands of debt from schools where they won’t receive degrees and deal with the trauma the rest of their lives.

    Federal law designed to create gender parity — Title IX — exists to provide a framework for students dealing with sexual assault. Known better for its affect on athletics — schools can’t have twice as many male sports teams as women’s sports teams any more, for example — Title IX has much broader applications that are woefully under publicized and under utilized.

    And so, the organization Know Your IX was created in 2013 to educate students, advocates and supporters on everything from how to file a complaint under Title IX and where to find a lawyer to how to speak to the media and handle school retaliation. Know Your IX is a national group run by survivors and driven by students seeking to end campus sexual violence. Their importance cannot be overstated: campus culture is nearly impossible for one person or even a group to change during the very short time they’re enrolled. Change simply takes longer than a couple of years. A grassroots network that holds schools accountable while helping informing the public at large and supporting survivors is critical to making all colleges safe for all students. has a number of easy, practical ways to assist their work and make a difference in your community. Obviously, you can always donate if you have the means; they do a lot of trainings and free help, so the money goes to good use.

    Their “Provide” tab has resources for victims of campus sexual assault including how to file a complaint and information on trans discrimination and the affects of immigration status. The “Related Resources” tab prepares victims for dealing with school retaliation and new legislation. And the “Activism” tab guides students who want to change their campus culture and join the movement.

    Perhaps the most broadly helpful and important part of the website is the “I Want To” tab. When you click “support a survivor” you jump to a detailed list of dos and don’ts for family, friends, professors, activists and advocates. The way you — yes, you and absolutely every one — respond to stories about sexual assault in the media and in plot lines and in pop culture affects the survivors in your life. Even if you don’t know that you know someone, the numbers say you do.

    So take the fifteen minutes to prep yourself in case a friend or family member comes to you. Being supportive in that situation isn’t intuitive and doing a little reading ahead of time can mean a world of difference to someone who needs you in that moment. What they need first and foremost is for you to simply believe them.

    The hashtag #BelieveSurvivors was created long before the Rolling Stone article that prompted the current wave of discussion and victim blaming. It sounds so simple, but it is so rare in our culture for a victim to be believed implicitly by the person they reach out to. If you take nothing else out of this episode and the work that groups like Know Your IX do, let it be that two word directive: believe survivors.


    Follow, support, and utilize the resources at Know Your IX

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Read and signal boost the #BelieveSurvivors hashtag

    Sources/further reading:

    "On Rolling Stone, lessons from fact-checking, and the limits of journalism” by Maya Dusenbery at Feministing

    ”Jackie Update” — and why media only covers “interesting” rape stories by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville

    "How Rolling Stone Gave A Gift To Rape Apologists” by Katie Klabusich at Buzzfeed

    "Why I Don't Want To Hear Both Sides Of Rape Cases” by Wagatwe Wanjuki at Buzzfeed

    "Victims’ Memories Are Imperfect, But Still Perfectly Believable” by Ali Safran at Buzzfeed

    "The Wrestler and the Rape Victim” by Jessica Luther at Vice Sports

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #885 "A guide to doing it all wrong (The UVA Story - Rape Culture)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Stop Street Harassment via @StopStHarassmnt - Best of the Left Activism

    This should be simple, right? A stranger walks past you on the sidewalk or is standing in front of you in line at the coffee shop or running for the bus or even groggily walking their dog early in the morning. What do you do? How 'bout nothing? Possibly — if you make eye contact in that way that humans sometimes do — you smile and nod as the two of you go on your way.

    For more than 80% of women all over the world, this is not the typical experience. According to Stop Street Harassment — a nonprofit dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide, behavior ranging from demanding a person smile to flashing to screaming to stalking are a real, daily part of life.

    There is a compounding threat of gendered harassment for people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. A 2013 study of nearly 100,000 LGBTQ people in the European Union found that half avoided public spaces because of a high level of fear in restaurants, parking lots, parks, etc.

    In the U.S., one quarter of women experience street harassment before their 12th birthday and 90% report dealing with it regularly by age 19. It’s simply unacceptable that more than half our population has to take evasive measures to feel safe in their daily lives. As we’ve heard on today’s show, even if you’re a guy who has totally benign motivations, after hearing and seeing what women go through, you might understand why your “Hey there, where are you headed?” would be met with caution and even fear.

    At you can find a comprehensive definition of street harassment as well as tools to raise awareness and work toward culture change around the world. The board of directors explains why they devote time and resources to this issue:

    "We believe that street harassment impedes gender equality and must be taken seriously. Because street harassment is often an invisible problem (especially to people in power) and it is dismissed as being a 'minor annoyance,' a ‘joke,' or the fault of the harassed person, our primarily focus right now is simply to document the problem and demonstrate why it’s a human rights violation that must be addressed.”

    That power dynamic is the core component: a man yelling at a woman on the street is putting himself into her space without her permission and declaring that he can do so if and when he wants. The good news about this dynamic is that every man listening can do something super simple to help. Visit to check your own behavior and take stock of the other men in your networks. It’s safer for you to call out a buddy than it is for the harassed person to try and do so.

    Also, this is seriously advanced warning about Anti-Street Harassment Week happening April 12th-18th, so mark your calendars as you’ll have no excuse to miss it. Between now and then, you can share your story with Stop Street Harassment, volunteer your graphic design skills and report ads, TV shows and other media that depicts harassment as a joke, compliment or no big deal. Most of the asks at Stop Street Harassment's “Join Us” tab take less than 15 minutes; certainly the basic humanity and safety of more than half the world’s population is worth at least that.


    Get involved with Stop Street Harassment

    Mark your calendar for Meet Us On The Street, an international anti-street harassment campaign April 12-18, 2015.

    Follow Stop Street Harassment on Twitter and on Facebook

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Bookmark Meet Us On The Street Week resources on Twitter and on Facebook

    Follow the #EndStreetHarassment thread and share your own experiences.

    Sources/further reading:

    "Street harassment of women: It's a bigger problem than you think” by Holly Kearl at Christian Science Monitor

    "Feeling harassed? Do something about it. — Friday is Women's Equality Day in the US, yet routine street harassment blocks that goal for many women. But we can act.” by Holly Kearl at The Guardian

    "6 Things You Might Not Think Are Harassment But Definitely Are (because apparently we need to clear a few things up)” by Kat George at Bustle

    "Street Harassment Is a Problem—No Doubt—but Here’s Why That Video Didn’t Help the Debate” by Dio Rabouin at The Root

    "Hollaback and Why Everyone Needs Better Research Methods And Why All Data Needs Theory” by Zeynep Tufekci at Medium

    WATCH: "NYC Women Talk Cat Calling” by W. Kamau Bell

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #876 "Hey girl, you want me to respect your personal space? (Street Harassment)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Assessment Reform via @FairTestOffice - Best of the Left Activism

    Most of what’s wrong with our country’s education system can be summed up by a Time Magazine cover published yesterday. “The War on Teacher Tenure!!” declares Time emphatically atop a graphic with a gavel coming down on “rotten apples” — presumably the teachers in question. The article’s subtitle explains: "It’s really difficult to fire a bad teacher. A group of Silicon Valley investors wants to change that.”

    As if union busting right-to-work laws and the charter school privatization movement weren’t enough, now Silicon Valley has decided to weigh in on our public education system. It’s probably fine, though, right? It’s not like the perpetual standardized testing process could have anything to do with the sudden interest from the technology sector…

    Resistance to the monetizing of primary education and to standardized testing specifically is growing across the country. Boycotts, demonstrations, community forums, and opt-out campaigns like the successful one last year in Seattle have spread to Austin, Portland, Chicago, Denver, and Providence with more student, parent and teacher groups joining all the time.

    Testing Overload in American Schools released a report released last week on just how much time our students take filling in bubbles on tests instead of learning. On average, across the 14 school districts surveyed, students took one to two standardized tests a month. A companion report by the Center for American Progress adds that this “test preparation culture” has “put a premium on testing over learning.”

    The reports were scathing enough that even President Obama — who’s education secretary Arne Duncan has been decidedly right of center on tenure and testing — was forced to weigh in and support a "cutback on unnecessary testing and test preparation" and "the smarter use of tests that measure real student learning.”

    With the release of the reports and the White House comments, now is the perfect time to join the movement for assessment reform. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing has a comprehensive compilation of resources for anyone looking to support opting out and resisting No Child Left Behind “reforms.” Visit for fact sheets on tests, explanations of federal policies, the consequences of high-stakes testing, and better ways to evaluate students and teachers.

    You can also sign the American Federation of Teachers' petition calling out the Time Magazine cover — which doesn’t even accurately depict their own journalists’ reporting, let alone the state of public education. Since we all know more people will see the cover than read the article, most Americans will get the wrong impression and not hear any of the concern surrounding testing industry ties to Silicon Valley.

    Effective public education is an issue that concerns all of us — whether or not we are students or have children of our own. It’s not an overstatement to say that the future of our country very much depends on our investing in the next generation. So, visit and join the movement to let our teachers get back to, well, teaching.


    Get involved with FairTest: Assessment Reform Network Project to resist unnecessary standardized testing

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Sign AFT’s petition: "TIME: Apologize to teachers”

    Sign the "Don't Delete History” petition from Texas Freedom Network

    Sources/further reading:

    The awful Time article for those who want to read it: "War on Teacher Tenure: How Silicon Valley Wants to Fire Bad Teachers”

    "Florida schools rail against explosion of new tests” via Orlando Sentinel

    "Scrap the MAP! | Solidarity with Seattle teachers boycotting the MAP test”

    "Test Opposition Surges Across the Nation” via FairTest

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #871 "Your child is a widget (Education)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act via @healthyteen & @nwlc - Best of the Left Activism

    Because of a legislative onslaught of unconstitutional laws that have left almost 90% of Americans living in counties without abortion providers, the media and activism focus on issues of choice and reproductive rights typically centers around abortion care. Reproductive justice advocates work tirelessly to break through that tunnel vision, broadening the narrative to remind us that supporting bodily autonomy includes more than helping people end unwanted pregnancies; it also includes helping those who choose to become parents.

    Teen pregnancy and parenthood come with so much stigma you likely already have a mental image of the stereotypical teen mom. It’s not that you’re insensitive; it's years of media, horror stories in health class meant to scare kids into not having sex, and bad TV all having done their respective jobs on your subconscious.

    You probably don’t even realize that there are laws to protect pregnant teens as those typically accidental pregnancies aren’t given much priority in public spaces or political platforms. It turns out, however, that pregnant teens are full, autonomous humans — whose wombs and lives, according to the Republican Party Platform, must be regulated at every possible opportunity. By all means, they must carry to term — and then be sent adrift with no societal support and as much scolding as possible.

    Title IX laws actually bolster Constitutional protections and bodily autonomy guarantees, but most high school students aren’t aware of their rights, can’t vote for laws that protect them, and are heavily influenced by the messaging in their communities.

    As #NoTeenShame co-founder Gloria Malone writes this week at RH Reality Check, pregnant teens often initially buy into the doomed depiction of young families in the media and on shows like "16 and Pregnant.”

    Malone candidly describes her experience this way:

    "When I became pregnant at 15, the adults in my life believed my life was over. In addition to explicitly stating this to me, they began to treat me differently and even stopped helping me look into colleges because they believed I would not finish high school...If my family and high school guidance counselor had responded to my decision to carry my pregnancy to term and parent my child in a more positive way from the get-go, with tips on planning for my future and for my daughter’s future, I may have experienced a more healthy and positive pregnancy. And so I ask, how are others preparing teens to live the life they want for themselves and their families? We can and must do so much better.”

    Healthy Teen Network and the National Women’s Law Center are co-leading an effort which aims to take that advice and do better in practical and useful ways. The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act — sponsored in this legislative session by Senator Udall of New Mexico and Representative Polis of Colorado — would solidify the rights of teen parents and establish policies that provide concrete help.

    Teen parents should have the flexibility to finish school, pursue careers and have healthy families. Let your representatives know — during election season and beyond — that an issue affecting nearly 3 in 10 girls matters to you and should matter to them. Sign the letter at under the Public Policy tab and help make the legislation a priority after next month’s election. Also, be sure to follow #NoTeenShame for other ways to get involved with ending stigma and building support for families.


    Sign to support the The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act legislation backed by the National Women’s Law Center and Healthy Teen Network

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Follow #NoTeenShameon Twitter and on Tumblr

    Submit your story to #NoTeenShame

    Sources/further reading:

    "New Mexico Parental-Leave Law Helps Teen Moms Stay in School” via NBC News

    "Where’s the ’16, Parenting, and OK’ Reality Show?” by Gloria Malone at RH Reality Check

    "#NoTeenShame: A Social Media Movement Pushes Us To Respect Young Mothers & We’re All For It” via Hello Beautiful

    Graphic by Repeal Hyde Art Project and available for purchase at RHAP’s Zazzle Store

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #870 "Don't police me, bro! (Feminism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #TacoOrBeerChallenge

    It turns out “hash tag activism” is real activism with concrete results in the “real world.” It can raise awareness as well as money while changing culture and bringing people together internationally — even when the hashtag itself was initially started as a joke.

    Andrea Grimes — a reproductive healthcare activist and senior political reporter for RH Reality check — had been watching the “Ice Bucket Challenge” make its way around and thought tacos and beer sounded more fun.

    So, Grimes issued a new challenge via video on Tumblr: The Taco Or Beer Challenge. (That’s heavy on the “or,” by the way, to be inclusive to everyone’s dietary needs and restrictions.) She wrote the following for RHRC:

    "What do ice buckets have to do with ALS? I don’t know. What do tacos and beer have to do with abortion? I don’t know that either.

    What I do know is that eating tacos and drinking beer is more pleasurable than getting doused with ice water, and that lawmakers around the country are passing increasingly restrictive anti-abortion access laws. Which means abortion funds are now more necessary than ever as legal abortion becomes harder than ever to access—especially for those of us who don’t live in major urban centers.

    Tacos and beer, of course, remain as vital to our human happiness as they ever were. The solution is clear: Eat tacos, drink beer, and donate to abortion funds.”

    Since the start of the Taco Or Beer Challenge, the National Network of Abortion Funds has reported a major spike in first time donors. Celebs like Dan Savage, Martha Plimpton, Sarah Paulson and more are snapping pics and videos of themselves with a beer and/or a taco while donating to the abortion fund of their choice. Many are choosing to give to funds in New Orleans and Texas where recently passed laws are going into effect.

    Participating is easy and delicious. There’s no minimum contribution. You can toss two dollars to your local abortion fund — which you can find at — and you’ve completed the challenge! has a submission link and you can put it up on Twitter where right-wingers are freaking out over the abomination of “American” favorites like tacos and beer being used to fund healthcare for patients in need.

    The average caller to an abortion fund receives assistance in the neighborhood of one to two hundred dollars, which means your modest contribution goes a long way. Because the hotlines are volunteer run, 100% of your donation goes to save a person who needs it because this basic, safe medical procedure is singled out by politicians and rarely covered by insurance.

    So have a taco. Or a beer. Or both! Ice cream tacos, root beer, vegan quesadillas — all taco and beer-like substances are accepted. And then enjoy angering hysterical right-wingers and their hypocritical need to regulate your bedrooms and your doctor’s offices.


    Take the Taco Or Beer Challenge via Andrea Grimes

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Find your local abortion fund through The National Network of Abortion Funds and follow NNAF on Twitter

    Follow #TacoOrBeerChallenge and use it to challenge your friends/followers!

    Sources/further reading:

    #TacoOrBeerChallenge, Two Weeks In

    NNAF Spotlight: New Orleans Abortion Fund h/t @nolaAbortionFnd

    "Meet The Woman Who Refuses To Stop Fighting Against Texas’ Abortion Restrictions” by Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress

    "Whole Woman’s Health Opens its Doors in New Mexico, Starts Advocacy Initiative” via Whole Woman’s Health

    "Abortion Provider Expands to New Mexico in Response to Texas Anti-Abortion Law” by Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check

    "Federal Court Blocks Part of Texas Abortion Law Preceding Immediate State Appeal” by Andrea Grimes at RH Reality Check

    WATCH: "What It’s Like Inside One of Texas’ Last Abortion Clinics”

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #858 The fight for fundamental equality (Abortion Rights)

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The Jim Collins Foundation

    The Jim Collins Foundation raises money for those transgender people who need gender-confirming surgery as an important step toward becoming their true selves, but are without the financial means to access care. The founders and the board recognize that not every transgender person needs or wants surgery. Their mission is to aid those who do by abating the despair that comes with realizing the monetary hurdle is too high to clear. Finding surgery unattainable can result in hopelessness, depression and sometimes suicide.

    Allies who are moved to help can certainly do so by donating to this worthy non-profit, but also by checking to see if your own insurance company discriminates. Until the trans community is granted the same access to medically necessary care and protections from discrimination under the law, they will remain marginalized. Pressuring insurance companies and elected officials to actively move toward full equality is action we can — and must — all take.

    Take Action:

    Donate and spread the word about this great organization through their website: Jim Collins Foundation

    Additional Activism: Free CeCe, a documentary on CeCe McDonald

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: The Jim Collins Foundation, episode #801 "If you're talking about genitals then you've missed the point (Trans* Rights)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The New Economy Coalition

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    Capitalism is integrated into every aspect of our lives, whether we know it or like it. It’s a massive system and it dictates how we interact with each other and how our government interacts with those outside our boarders. So if we find it problematic, what exactly are we supposed to do?

    From the New Economy Coalition:

    The stakes are high. Climate change is accelerating. Inequality is at historic levels. The financial industry continues to teeter on the brink of collapse, threatening the global economy. And all the while, our political system has proven incapable of effecting the structural transformations necessary to — quite literally — save the planet. The time is now for a new approach, a New Economy.

    Take Action:

    Visit the New Economy Coalition website to join up, add your expertise, offer your support.

    More info:

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: New Economy Coalition, episode #803 "Resistance is the only hope (Capitalism)”

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The Sex Workers Project

    BOTL segment excerpt:

    The Sex Workers Project is doing the hard work of advocacy on behalf of a stigmatized industry. They provide client-centered legal and social services to individuals who engage in sex work, regardless of whether they do so by choice, circumstance, or coercion. Their professional service providers are multi-lingual and non-judgmental, assisting clients to remain in stable housing, access safer working conditions and employment options, protect their legal rights in family court, clear criminal records, secure legal immigration status, fight police misconduct, and access long-term supportive therapy while creating best practices in a marginalized, but legitimate field.

    The “Not Your Rescue Project” hash tag was started in January by a coalition of sex workers and allies fighting back against stigma and the idea that they were all powerless women in need of saving by predatory NGOs. [just said “N-G-O”] Read the linked article by Andrea Garcia-Vargas published at “Bustle” on where the hashtag started and how to support the activists’ efforts. If you’re just becoming aware of the issue of sex workers rights, the stories and narratives you’ll find there will help break down preconceived notions and give you a way to engage with one of the most marginalized groups in our society. If they can be brave enough to speak, we should honor that by listening and learning to become allies.

    Take Action:

    No Condoms as Evidence

    emPOWER - a Celebration of the Sex Workers Project, June 5th, NYC

    Additional Activism:

    Follow #NotYourRescueProject

    The Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP): Take Action and Volunteer

    More info:

    ”Playing the Whore” by Melissa Gira Grant

    Listen to the source segment for this activism at BOTL Activism: The Sex Workers Project, episode #826 "Work is work is work (Wage and Respect Gap)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

Sign up for activism updates