I have been a part of the Outright family for over 8 years--as an intern, board member, prom chaperone, fire truck puller (yes, you read that right), phone-a-thonner, archivist, brand new facilitator, and general HUGE FAN. There is no other organization that has a bigger place in my heart than Outright. It is a truly youth-driven, empowerment-focused, strengths-based, celebratory, educational, visionary, queer place. This is not always the easiest path to take, or the one that garners the most funding. Youth in our community sometimes want, need, and prioritize things that do not align with popular funding streams. However, Outright is wholeheartedly committed to their values and to being a queer organization in many senses of the word. The staff work their amazing butts off for this place. As do the board, facilitators, volunteers, and youth! Here's to another 20+ years of excellent service!
I had never heard of Outright until I was asked to join one of the relay teams for the Burlington City Marathon to raise money for the organization. After I joined the team, I met so many wonderful volunteers and board members and some of the youth the group serves. Outright and its volunteers do so much for the community of Burlington. It is a positive, safe place to be.
I have been an occasional volunteer, helping with phone banking. I received clear instructions and support during this volunteer experience. More interestingly, as a "general community member" I have seen the positive impact they make on both the youth they serve and the non-LGBTQ youth they involve. As a staff member at UVM, I have seen non-LGBTQ college students build their understanding for themselves and for queer youth. Outright strategically involves LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ college students to create allies for today and the future.
"The Mission of Outright is to build safe, healthy, and supportive environments for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth (ages 13-22)." In my experience volunteering and interning for Outright VT, I witnessed the mission of the organization being lived out among the staff, volunteers, and youth that are so very important to the agency. The network of love, support, and education is exactly what youth of all ages need to develop and step out in the world. I would absolutely recommend this nonprofit to anyone who is interested in supporting youth and having their life being changed in the process. Outright does an excellent job of using resources to benefit youth while taking the input and feedback of those teens.
I went to the Youth Summit this year. and it was absolutely incredible. It was nice to be in a place where I didn't feel judged for just being me. Outright is an incredible thing to be part of, and to take part of summit was something definitely life changing for me.
Outright Vermont is truly queer, youth driven and empowerment focused. At Outright's annual Queer and Ally Youth Summit this year, multiple youth proudly and loudly amplified how Outright Vermont has positively impacted their lives. I witnessed youth stand confidently and speak courageously. I saw empowerment, strength, and resilience. And, I heard Outright Vermont.
After meeting two Outright staff members during one of their eye-opening presentation, I was moved to volunteer with the organization as a Friday Night Group (FNG) facilitator. Helping to creating a safe and supportive environment for youth to share their experiences, make new friends and just be themselves reached something deep within me. I knew that this weekly opportunity was something truly special and I wanted to do what I could to ensure that queer and questioning youth had that outlet where they didn't need to worry about people misusing their gender pronouns or where they could get a hot meal each week. My experiences as a facilitator inspired me to take the next step and join the staff as the Youth Coordinator. I feel safe in saying that I can speak personally as to how the organization touches hearts and changes lives. - My score is actually representative of how a youth feels about the organization. I asked them to provide us with a rating of 0-5 stars. They said 4, because you're not perfect (and really who is) but you get a 5 for all of your effort.
I joined the board a few years ago, not because Outright was desperate for help, but because I wanted to be a part of a successful organization that was doing outstanding work in our community. Through their work in schools, Outright is educating the next generation of Vermonters on how to be compassionate citizens and not tolerate bullying in their schools and communities. The staff at Outright is 100% committed to the cause of ending homophobia and I know that when I volunteer my time and financial support, these resources are wisely used, sorely needed and always welcome. I encourage anyone to give of themselves — no matter how small the commitment — to this indispensable organization.
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 been a member of the Board of Directors for several years now, and am very proud of the work that Outright Vermont does all around the state. Not only do our LGBTQ youth find a place that is safe, nurturing and respectful, but all students who are in our schools recieve the powerful messages about bullying and acceptance. I know if I had and organization like this when I was a youth coming out my life would have been much happier. I have heard more than one youth describe an experience with Outright as "the best day/event of my life"... it does not get much more powerful than that!
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!