By Guy Page
With the emergence of Outright Vermont as the newly self-proclaimed referee of what’s news and what’s not regarding trangenderism in Vermont schools, it’s worth looking at what role they play in Vermont schools and how — and how much — the organization is funded.
In its Sept. 28 story, WCAX reported that girls on the Randolph Union High School volleyball team and their parents complained that a fully-dressed biological male teammate who identifies as a girl watched them undress and refused to leave the locker room when asked.
Using online links of the WCAX story, the locker room dispute went viral. It was picked up by the New York Post and other national and international conservative news media. Even after WCAX withdrew the story, the Daily Signal, the media arm of the Heritage Foundation, and other national media stepped into the vacuum and provided the girls’ side of the story. School officials, Gov. Scott, Agency of Education Secretary Dan French, and Outright Vermont complained these non-local news stories were inflammatory. The school website was (school officials say) hacked by transgender opponents and had to be taken down. It’s still down today.
As reported Monday in Vermont Daily Chronicle, a statement issued by the Burlington-based not-for-profit LGBTQ advocacy group commended WCAX for deleting an explosive Sept. 28 news story from its website, criticized the station’s on-air admission of harm done to the transgender students and their families, and — most tellingly — warned others to not make the same mistake as WCAX. The online statement concluded: “We need our stories to be told, accurately, and with our voices meaningfully represented. Anything else is disastrous. Just ask WCAX.”
As of 9:46 a.m. Tuesday, the Vermont news media had yet to report on Outright Vermont’s statement/warning. The Vermont Associated Press, WCAX, WPTZ, the Rutland Herald, Vermont Public [Radio], and VTDigger all remain silent. However, at least one lone voice in the Vermont media landscape has weighed in, on Twitter last night:
“DEAR OUTRIGHT VERMONT: Yes your side should be in the stories, but you don’t get to tell us what to do. You get a lot of MSM coverage, but not a lot actually talk to the ones who are not OK with this,” True North reporter Mike Bielawski tweeted last night. “Never put out threat-like statements again!”
If, as may be the case, Outright Vermont now has enough influence to tell submissive Vermont news organizations what they may or may not report, it is in the public interest to know more about this not-for-profit organization.
Its website mission and history says:
Outright Vermont is a 501(c)(3) non-profit under federal and state regulations.
“Since 1989, we have been building hope, equity, and power with LGBTQ+ youth in Vermont. Founded by a small group of queer adults, after a national survey discovered that queer youth were dramatically at higher risks of suicide than their heterosexual peers, Outright Vermont has built up programming that now includes:
- Queer youth spaces, that hosts a range of weekly peer-support groups, events, workshops, and more in all 14 counties of Vermont;
- Education & outreach work statewide for schools, communities, colleges, and organizations looking for support on preventing harassment, dealing with harassment, creating and supporting Queer/Straight Alliances (QSAs), and more;
- Annual large scale events for queer youth & the larger queer community including: 10 years of queer youth pride, a statewide queer & allied youth summit, the Fire Truck Pull, and the annual Outright Awards.
If like many Vermonters you were raised to view the word ‘queer’ as an unacceptable derogatory term in the same family as the ‘n-word,’ see the Outright Vermont statement, ‘Why We Use ‘Queer.’”
Outright’s Board of Directors includes a web developer, a Dartmouth College pluralism official, a school-based counselor in Addison County, a fitness instructor and chair of the Lyric Theater board, a Vermont Agency of Human Services Director of Trauma Prevention, the Chief Philanthropy Officer of the Vermont Food Bank, and the Vermont State Police Fair & Impartial Policing director.
The 2021 annual report features stories on Champlain Valley Union’s 100-strong gay students group and their summer Camp Outright, and a young couple who left Texas for Vermont after their four-year-old announced he is transgender.
Outright Vermont is no longer the shoe-string operation it once was. For perhaps the first time, funding surpassed the $1 million mark in 2021 with $1.23 million. Total revenue in 2019 was $994,000, according to its form 990.
The annual report offers no further data about the identity of specific funding sources.
According to the annual report, school activities include a youth speakers bureau and:
Education and professional development: “Since 2011, we have reached 6,829 students through 237 presentations to schools in every county of Vermont. We aim to help educators and students change the climate in their schools by providing [educator training, peer (student) training, and statewide events.].”
Gender & Sexuality Alliance: “We provide leadership development and organizing opportunities for students and advisors through the VT GSA (Gender and Sexuality Alliance) Network. We work with schools to help start or sustain these social, support, and advocacy groups within their schools to help change climate and create local school-based support.”
Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.