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Civil Union Wrong Righted! VT DOE Restores Outright VT Funding

Submitted by on 06/21/2012 – 12:18 PMNo Comment

CIVIL UNION WRONG RIGHTED!

VERMONT DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION RESTORES FUNDING FOR OUTRIGHT VERMONT ANTI-HARASSMENT WORK IN SCHOOLS

Burlington, VT – With the leadership of Govenor Shumlin, the Vermont Department of Education (VT DOE) has restored funding to Outright Vermont (ORVT) for their anti-harassment and anti-bullying work in Vermont schools.  This funding was cut in 2000, after the heated Civil Union debates and severe homophobic pressure from outside groups pressured VT lawmakers to cut public funding to any gay group.  Now, twelve years later, this critical funding will support ORVT’s widely praised education work, assisting hundreds of Vermont schools in their effort to prevent and address bullying and harassment of students based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Governor Shumlin during his visit last month to Outright VT!

This is a Civil Union wrong righted.” Said Melissa Murray, Outright Vermont’s Executive Director. “The restoration of VT DOE funding is key to our continued work with Vermont schools, to ensure that bullying, taunting, harassment and other forms of cruelty are not tolerated in any school.”

“We support organizations that help to address issues of bullying and harassment, and we expect this program to do just that.” said Commissioner of Education Armando Vilaseca

In 1998, after meeting with queer students from a number of Vermont schools, then Governor Dean and Commissioner of Education Hull established this funding partnership, which helped to create the first Education Coordinator position at ORVT.  Both Dean and Hull were outspoken in their support of ORVT’s important work.  Over the next two years, ORVT’s education impact more than tripled, expanding the number of invitations of ORVT to lead anti-harassment trainings in middle and high schools from 11 to 35 and the number of Gay/Straight Alliances (GSAs) from 4 to 15.

 

Outright’s visits to our school and support of our QSA have helped to educate staff and students about LGBT issues that directly affect our community on a daily basis. Outright’s work has helped to foster open and honest dialogue at our school, creating a more supportive learning environment for all staff and students.“ said Eve Berinati, Burlington High School, English Teacher/QSA Advisor.

 

Despite the lack of VT DOE funding over the last dozen years, ORVT continued to build one of the most well-respected and sought after anti-harassment school programs in Vermont.

 

Corrie Haskell, a School Counselor at Hartford High School, said “Our school would not be where we are today if it hadn’t been for Outright coming to do the Ally Development Workshop with our staff. Through the education and training that our staff received from Outright, the school community as a whole became a more positive and safe place for all of our students.”

 

With support from the Liberty Hill Queer Youth Fund in 2006, ORVT restored the Education Coordinator position and in the last year alone:

  • invited to lead 152 presentations in Vermont schools, reaching 4,234 students and educators;
  • supported the important work of 30 Queer/Straight Alliance (QSAs) clubs in schools across Vermont;
  • reached schools in every single Vermont county;
  • and hosted the 6th annual Vermont Queer & Allied Youth Summit – a day of networking, leadership development, and community for queer & allied VT students – drawing nearly 150 people from around the state.

 

“With this new VT DOE funding and public support, we anticipate a continued increase in the number of schools that request our trainings for the 2012-2013 school year.” said Saben Littlefield, ORVT’s Education & Statewide Field Manager.

 

The 2011 VT Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) reports that 16% of queer identified youth (compared to just 3% of heterosexual youth) had attempted suicide in the last 30 days.   In the same 2011 VT YRBS report, 32% of queer youth reported being bullied in the past 30 days, compared to 16% of their heterosexual peers.

 

“Over the last decade we clearly have made a difference, “ said Don Eggert, Outright Vermont’s Board Chair, “but there is still more to be done. With more and more young people coming out earlier and more youth being bullied and harassed for a range or reasons , including perceived sexual orientation, the work of creating safer schools for all Vermont youth is as pressing as ever.” 

 

For more info, call 802.865.9677 or email Llu Mulvaney-Stanak at llu@outrightvt.org

 

 

The mission of Outright Vermont is to build safe, healthy, and supportive environments for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth, ages 13-22. Since 1989, Outright has worked to provide safety and support for LGBTQQ youth, helped make schools safer, and focused on youth empowerment, leadership, and advocacy. To learn more about Outright, visit www.outrightvt.org. 

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