The Vermont Department of Education has restored funding that had been cut over a decade ago for an anti-harassment program focused on gay youth.
The money will be used for Outright Vermont’s anti-harassment and anti-bullying work in schools. The statewide gay advocacy organization works with students and educators to prevent harassment of youth based on actual or perceived gender or sexual identity. State funding for Outright Vermont’s program was cut in 2000, during the debate over civil unions. Llu Mulvaney-Stanak is Outright’s Director of Development.
Vermont Department of Education Spokesperson Angela Ross says the program will receive two thousand dollars this year and two thousand dollars next year. Ross says both Commissioner Armando Vilaseca and Governor Shumlin felt it was the right thing to do.
The Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that compared to heterosexual youth, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth are at higher risk for suicide. The 2011 survey found that 16 percent had attempted suicide in a 30-day period compared to 3-percent of heterosexuals. 32 percent were bullied compared to 16 percent of straight youth. Llu Mulvaney-Stanak says Vermont’s governor and education commissioner have been outspoken in their advocacy for anti-bullying work. She says while the funding from the state is low, it is the beginning of a renewed partnership whose symbolism is immeasurable.
Outright Vermont will receive the funding beginning July 1st.