More than 30 LGBTQ and allied teens from Mount Desert Island and Blue Hill down to Boothbay Harbor recently gathered with OUT Maine at the First Universalist Church in Rockland for a retreat to talk about their fears and challenges in their schools over the last month. The stories were very disturbing, as it appears that some Mainers now feel emboldened to express their hateful and discriminatory perspectives in the new national climate, according to a news release from OUT Maine.

“We think that what we are seeing on the national news isn’t happening here in Maine,” said Jeanne Dooley, executive director of OUT Maine, according to the release. “But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.” Too many attending youth were dealing with increased bullying and harassment since Nov. 7.

The retreat, led by OUT Maine staff and volunteers, as well as teachers from Mount Desert Island and Blue Hill, gave youth the opportunity to talk about ways to address these issues in their schools. Perhaps even more important, they were heard and supported in this increasingly vulnerable time.

OUT Maine supports, educates and empowers rural LGBTQ youth by providing community safe spaces, changing school climate through education and the building of Gay/Straight/Trans Alliances (school clubs), building a strong provider safety net by training health and mental health providers, school staff, clergy and other youth service organizations, and supporting parents and families of these at-risk youth to reduce homelessness.

Since the election, news reports indicate that national organizations like the ACLU have received more than $7 million in increased donations. Dooley shares that OUT Maine has not seen any increase in its donations. “While the work of the ACLU is critical at the national level, OUT Maine’s work directly influences our local climate, for youth and our communities,” Dooley said. “We would love to see local people who feel energized by the election and want to help make the choice to support OUT Maine.”

OUT Maine sends special thanks to the First Universalist Church in Rockland for its continuing support of OUT Maine and the work toward welcoming and affirming communities.

To support rural LGBTQ youth, visit outmaine.org to make a donation. OUT Maine also encourages donors to consider providing a monthly sustaining donation to help the work continue.


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