Writing an Advocacy Letter

Tips for Writing Letters

  • Address one issue per letter.
  • State the purpose of the letter in the first paragraph. Make your argument simple and easy to follow, and always be courteous.
  • Use examples and evidence from your local agency, area or state.


The Honorable Olympia Snowe
U.S. Senate SR-176
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Sen. Snowe,

We are writing to urge you to oppose the Family Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 1271). This bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives in April 2011, would require minors to obtain parental permission before participating in surveys or studies that ask them questions about psychological problems, sexual behavior or attitudes, or “illegal, antisocial or self-incriminating behavior.”

The Healthy Youth Coalition represents over 125 agencies serving troubled, runaway and homeless youth in New England, including seven agencies in Maine alone. In Maine as elsewhere, these agencies are often the last stop for adolescents in crisis and/or on the street. Among other things, these agencies provide emergency shelter; individual and family counseling; drug treatment and prevention; and HIV education – services that teens and their families often can’t get anywhere else. These services are particularly important in Maine, which has a higher-than-average rate of youth suicide and where an estimated 98% of homeless adolescents abuse alcohol and other drugs or are at risk of doing so.

Homeless and troubled youth are particularly hard to study because they spend so much time on the streets, hiding even from those who could help them the most. Youth-serving agencies rely heavily on the work of social scientists to track and study this transient, vulnerable population. A law forbidding minors to participate in anonymous research studies would almost certainly reduce the amount of information our member agencies could receive about the problems and needs of these youth.

The Family Privacy Protection Act (H.R. 1271) would seriously undermine youth agencies’ efforts to serve society’s most vulnerable adolescents. In the interest of adolescents and their families, we ask that you vote against it.

Sincerely yours,

Brian McGee
Executive Director
Healthy Youth Coalition