Organization Highlight: OUT Maine

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Providing necessary supports for Maine's youth LGBTQ+ community

OUT Maine provides statewide LGBTQ+ resources for educators, providers, and families, but more importantly educational and supports resources for LGBTQ+ youth.  They serve teens ages 11 - 22, with something for everyone.  All programs welcome and encourage allied youth to participate.

An Interview with Jeanne Dooley, Executive Director and Rachel Albury, Development and Operations Coordinator of OUT Maine

Who does OUT Maine offer programs and resources to?

OUT Maine provides resources, both educational and support, for Maine students, families, educators,  and youth service providers, including physical and behavioral health care providers, clergy, youth programs, parents and families.

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What kind of resources do you offer?

Families: Free online resources as well as a monthly parent info night for anyone parenting or caring for youth with a diverse sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. We can also do individual consultations on request.

Teachers: Free online resources. We also offer training (for a nominal fee) on how to better support LGBTQ+ youth. These trainings can be on-site or individuals can attend one of our regional trainings.

Students: Free after-school programming and low cost / free youth retreats. Due to COVID-19, all of our programming is currently virtual and FREE.

What topics do the OUT Maine resources cover?

Teachers: Curricula on LGBTQ+ topics for the classroom as well as professional development on the risks and protective factors of LGBTQ+ youth and how to support them in the school environment. Support for building and running GSTA's. Posters and literature for GSTA groups.

Providers: How to provide welcoming and affirming services to LGBTQ+ youth.

Behavioral health providers: In-depth training on how to support LGBTQ+ youth over time.

Families: Literature and resources for parents raising LGBTQ+ children.

How has COVID-19 changed OUT Maine's programming?  Has it been positive or negative?

Both. We had to cancel our major annual youth retreat Rainbow Ball Weekend, which hosts up to 200 LGBTQ+ and allied youth from around the state of Maine and provides an LGBTQ+ safe prom and a talent show. We also had to cancel all of our other in-person programming and trainings, including our regional overnights -- another way we reached youth in other parts of the state.

On the upside, we began offering virtual programming, including an online talent show, which opened up a whole new area of programming and statewide youth reach for us on a weekly basis. The virtual programming has given us a chance to connect with more youth and, likewise, connect the youth virtually with friends and allies throughout the state. We’ve also been doing more collaborations with other organizations to design programming, including our local museum (Farnsworth Art Museum).

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What educational and support opportunities will you be offering for the upcoming school year?

We are in the process of developing online training programs for teachers and providers. When it is safe to return to in-person programming, we will resume our regional in-person training which happens throughout Maine. When it’s safe, we’ll be available for on-site training as well.

Besides the current virtual programming (check our website for and up-to-date schedule), mark your calendars for our 2021 in-person youth retreats as well as ongoing trainings scheduled throughout the year (as COVID will permit).

April 30th - May 2nd, 2021: Rainbow Ball Weekend

September 2021: OUT Maine Haystack Mountain School of Crafts Studio Weekend

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What do you wish more people knew about the amazing work that OUT Maine does?

Our programs welcome and encourage allied youth to participate alongside LGBTQ+ youth!

It’s also important to know that we work statewide. Since we began services in 1996, we were a volunteer-run midcoast organization. We served LGBTQ+ youth primarily in Knox, Lincoln and Waldo counties and were locally known as OUT As I Want to Be. In 2016, we expanded to cover the entire state and changed our name to OUT Maine.

With 5 professional staff, we work to make Maine welcoming and affirming to all youth, building self-esteem and personal/leadership skills through direct youth programs; improving the safety and support in our schools by improving policies and procedures and providing training for staff; building a safety net of trained, informed providers who can serve as a safe space in the widespread small rural communities throughout Maine through our half- and full-day trainings; and supporting parents and families to keep LGBTQ+ youth safe and in their homes (LGBTQ+ youth make up 25-40% of Maine’s homeless teens).

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What do you love about your organization?

Rachel Albury: That we are small and committed to our work.

Jeanne Dooley: That our strong staff team and board are very committed to our mission and work hard together to maximize our effectiveness in making Maine welcoming and affirming for all youth. I’m grateful for the wonderful staff who do this amazing, critical work. Also, being small, we can pivot and shift gears quickly -- as were we able to create online programs for youth within a few weeks of the COVID-19 shutdown and keep youth supported and connected during this scary spring/summer.

How has Community Learning for ME helped OUT Maine?

Increased our online visibility. Strengthened our partnerships with other organizations seeking to improve Maine’s support for youth.

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OUT Maine Family Resources

Offered by:
  • OUT Maine
Platform:
Website Resources
  • Parents/Guardians

OUT Maine Teacher Resources

Offered by:
  • OUT Maine
Platform:
Website Resources
  • Teachers