Outright Vermont is Vermont's only queer youth service organization. Its mission is to build safe, healthy, and supportive environments for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth.
Queer Youth Space & Statewide Education Work Outright Vermont is one of the oldest queer youth organizations in the United States, founded in 1989. Since their start, they have hosted an adult-facilitated weekly queer (LGBTQ or lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer & questioning) youth group in Burlington, VT on Friday nights. They have also had outpost youth groups in Montpelier, Rutland, Brattleboro, and St. Albans. They also offer workshops and presentations on queer identity, anti-harassment training, and how to start Queer/Straight Alliance student clubs for Vermont schools. In 2011, they presented to nearly 4,000 students and educators across the state, in over 250 presentations.
Homophobic Backlash Against Outright VT Programs In 1998, then Governor Howard Dean granted Department of Education funding for Outright's work with schools on anti-bullying trainings. Then, in 2000, Dean cut the DOE funding due to anti-Civil Unions backlash. The funding was not restored until 2012, by Governor Peter Shumlin and even this funding was at a fraction of the original grant. During the Vermont Civil Unions debates of 1999 & 2000, Outright Vermont became a target from external and internal Vermont anti-gay groups, including personal threats to the staff and vicious public accusations about the organizations work with young people. In 2000, the Civil Unions bill was signed into law in Vermont. In 2002, Barre City Elementary and Middle School school board voted to deny the posting of "safe zone" cards from Outright VT in the school. These cards designated a teacher or staff member as a "safe" person to talk to about coming out as LGBTQ. In 2006, Outright Vermont's scheduled presentations at Williston Central School were met with a small, but vocal anti-gay parent protest and large community meeting to discuss the content of the anti-harassment trainings. After overwhelming support for Outright VT's workshops, school officials kept the workshops as scheduled. In 2007, Missquoi Valley Union high school, in Swanton, VT, had a similar community reaction to scheduled presentations and after a heated public school board meeting, the board agreed to keep the workshops as scheduled.
Vermont Legislative Work In 2004, Outright VT was instrumental in passing Vermont's first anti-bullying legislation. In 2007, they led the effort in testifying before the Vermont legislature to pass one of the country's first gender identity bill, including "gender identity" as a protected category in all state law. In 2012, Outright VT worked closely with the Vermont Human Rights Commission to advocate for the strengthening of the Vermont anti-harassment legislation.
Organizational Milestones & New Programs In 2005, Outright VT received a three-year $100,000 grant for statewide education work from the Queer Youth Fund, of the Liberty Hill Fund. In 2009 the group sponsored Gendertopia, a nine-week afterschool program to explore who gender and sexualities are represented in popular culture. In 2009 they also started the first state-wide effort to ensure every "middle and high schools offer genderless bathrooms" . In 2011, Outright Vermont, in partnership with the YWCA, established Vermont's first queer youth summer camp, Camp Outright. In its first year, the camp drew 40 campers from around the U.S. and in its second year, double that many.
- Prom night, Manchester, Vermont - May 11, 2010. WCAX: http://www.wcax.com/Global/story.asp?S=12472477
- Outright Vermont website: http://outrightvt.org/wordpress/about-us/mission/
- Outright VT website - programs & history: http://outrightvt.org/wordpress/
- "Civil Union Wrong Righted" blog post from Outright VT website: http://outrightvt.org/wordpress/2012/06/civil-union-wrong-righted-vt-doe-restores-outright-vt-funding/
- VPR News: http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/74709/interview-kate-jerman-outright-vermont/
- NCSSE website: http://www.ncsse.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.ViewPage&PageID=1053
- BullyPolice.org website: http://www.bullypolice.org/vt_law.html
- GLAD Know Your Rights' Vermont Laws: http://www.glad.org/rights/vermont/c/anti-discrimination-law-in-vermont/
- Common Good Vermont: http://blog.commongoodvt.org/2012/05/news-shumlin-visits-outrightvt-to-mark-passage-of-bullying-law/
- Liberty Hill Foundation, Queer Youth Fund 2005-2006 Grantees, http://www.libertyhill.org/Page.aspx?pid=299.
- State program helps students explore gender, WILSON RING The Associated Press - Published: June 8, 2009; http://www.timesargus.com/article/RH/20090608/NEWS04/906080366/1004/SPORTS
- Transgender teen wants genderless bathrooms, By WILSON RING The Associated Press - Published: August 29, 2009. http://www.timesargus.com/article/20090829/NEWS02/908290305/-1/RSS14
- Camp Outright website: http://campoutright.org