Outright Vermont has been around since 1989 serving LGBTQQ youth in Vermont. While the story of Outright has changed and shifted with the every changing needs of youth, the mission has remained constant -- to provide safe, healthy, and supportive environments for queer youth in Vermont. The work that this organization is doing today is more expansive than what it was doing in 1989 -- but the core program, Friday Night Group, remains. This group runs every Friday night -- and has since 1989 [bad weather and holidays included] -- but the work has expanded to also include an education work in schools, sexual health and wellness programming for queer youth across the state, additional sites for Friday night group, a week-long residential summer camp for queer and allied youth, overseeing the Queer Straight Alliance [QSA] network for school groups, free and anonymous HIV testing, counseling, and referrals, and hosting an annual Summit for youth. This organization has served an important role is helping youth to feel valued, appreciated, and respected -- not only in their space, but in their communities. Since the start of 2011, Outright has done educational 237 presentations for nearly 7,000 youth and adults across the state. There were 38 campers for the inaugural season of Camp Outright in August 2011, and there are currently over 60 youth registered for the 2nd season of Camp Outright. The youth are involved in all of the work that the organization does -- including being youth board members, setting the priorities for Outright each year and sitting on speaker's panels, planning programs and events, advocating for LGBTQQ rights, laws, or policies in the statehouse, and fundraising. The work that Outright is doing continues to move forward as the youth use their voices to step up, speak out, and be proud of being exactly who they are.
Outright Vermont provides vital services to this rural state. Rural youth still struggle with isolation, and Outright actively battles this every day, bringing youth together to support each other. This is a youth organization that truly empowers youth as opposed to "reaching down" with services "for" youth. They work hard to expand their reach throughout the state, moving their yearly conference/Queer Prom event around the state to allow more youth from different areas to attend. Their visibility work alone is so valuable, and they provide so much more. The Outright Vermont School Report Card that evaluates Vermont schools based on friendliness and support toward LGBTQ youth is another invaluable service they provide. We are blessed to have this energetic and active organization in our state!
I have worked, volunteered, donated, and generally been a huge fan of Outright Vermont for over a decade. They really do make it better for queer youth in Vermont and I am proud to have an org of their caliber in my state. They are actively creating space (physical and otherwise) for queer youth in communities and schools in every corner of Vermont - the results can be seen at any of their events, where happy, healthy, and vibrant queer youth are able to truly be themselves. Go Outright VT!