Maine's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are at very high risk. With high Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) scores, these Maine youth:
- Are being bullied regularly (8 out of 10)
- Have 3 to 4 times the suicidal thoughts and actions of their heterosexual peers
- Make up 25 to 40 percent of Maine's homeless teens
- Have a high risk of skipping school and dropping out
- Have much higher substance usage than their heterosexual peers
Having a high number of ACES (physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and neglect are only a few these youth encounter too much of the time) means that these youth have poor potential for productive, healthy futures. OUT Maine is calling on organizations and individuals to act to help the state's youth - our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbors, students, and friends.
OUT Maine, which has been around for more than 20 years, actively works to empower and support these youth and their families in rural areas throughout Maine. OUT Maine works in four ways:
- Creating safe spaces in communities through regular drop-in programs, overnights, and retreats
- Supporting welcoming and affirming school climates through the development and support of gay/straight/trans alliances in schools that help reduce bullying and harassment for all students by 50 percent
- Building an informed, supportive safety net of providers - health and behavioral health professionals, clergy, school staff, crisis workers, and youth service organizations - through special training on the risk and protective factors of these youth and how to make workplaces, practices, and youth interactions more welcoming and affirming
- Supporting parents and families to keep these youth in their homes and off the homeless negative spiral through one-on-one consultation and parent information/support nights
OUT Maine's professional trainings last from one to three hours and can be designed to meet individual organizations' needs. Participants will understand terminology, pronouns, risk, and protective factors and begin to fashion an action plan to make changes toward more welcoming and affirming offices after the training.
OUT Maine is also creating a level-two training for clinicians working with these youth over time. Topics will include the impact of personal biases and understanding in working with this at-risk population; the challenges these youth are facing across a continuum of issues and environments; as well as strategies to navigate the sometimes opposing paths of youth and families with different takes on LGBTQ issues. This level-two training will be available in early 2018.
For more information on OUT Maine's work, visit outmaine.org or call 800-530-6997.
Source: OUT Maine.