What Guides us
OUT Maine is committed to lifting up Maine’s LGBTQ+ youth. We build resilience and life skills to help our queer youth overcome daunting statistics and unsupportive homes, schools and communities. We teach personal and leadership skills; provide connection and support through peers and adult mentors; and lay the foundation for queer youth to become advocates for themselves and help build more inclusive, supportive communities throughout our rural state.
When you support OUT Maine, you are
DEVELOPING YOUTH RESILIENCE AND COMPETENCIES
OUT’s youth programs directly reach many hundreds of youth annually to provide connection, encouragement and inspiration. Reaching across Maine, we provide weekly youth programs (both virtual and in-person), regional overnight retreats, weekend leadership programs, our biannual OUT Maine Haystack Mountain School of Crafts studio-immersion weekend, and our annual Rainbow Ball Weekend that draws over 200 Maine youth from southern York county to northern Aroostook.
PROMOTING SAFER SCHOOL PRACTICES
Over 90% of Maine’s LGBTQ+ teens experience bullying and harassment regularly in their school environments. Unsafe schools impede LGBTQ+ youth access to a quality education and to realizing their full potential. For rural youth, schools are the place they spend most of their out-of-home time. These unsafe school environments seed lifelong mental health challenges.
OUT Maine’s Integrated School Climate Change Initiative raises up individual district and school policies and procedures to meet state mandates and best practices; trains teachers and administrators across the state to safely implement these support structures; and builds educators’ capacity in their schools and districts to encourage acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth and provide individual youth support to maximize their futures.
CREATING SUPPORT WITH AN INFORMED, SUPPORTIVE PROVIDER NETWORK
Research shows that just one supportive, engaged adult can change the trajectory of a youth’s life. (MIYHS, 2019) With training and consultation, each rural practitioner, office and agency can provide support and affirmation in their daily youth engagements.
OUT Maine has a range of in-person and online training programs that inform providers of risks and protective factors for LGBTQ+ youth, as well as ways to create welcoming and affirming offices and youth interactions. Our staff responds to dozens of consultation requests each month to enhance providers’ capacity to change lives.
We vision a safety net that spans Maine -- trained health and behavioral health providers and practices, youth-serving agencies and faith communities. Together, we can weave a web of supportive providers across our rural state.
REDUCING YOUTH HOMELESSNESS
25% to 40% of Maine’s homeless teens identify as LGBTQ+. We believe that number is low, as many rural youth don’t identify as “homeless.” To avoid relocating to the three homeless shelters in Portland, Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn, rural youth simply couch surf or sleep “rough.” Too many LGBTQ+ youth are kicked out of their homes due to lack of family support; religious tenets that cause families to choose religion over their children; and domestic violence and substance misuse that makes their homes unsafe.
We strive to help families understand the importance of family acceptance and support for queer youth. Through monthly support groups and individual consultations, our staff provide much needed understanding and capacity-building to help parents and families keep their queer youth at home and safe. LGBTQ+ youth who are supported by their families have an 50% increase in success and life satisfaction.