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#ProudStories: Support SpeakOUT’s Ongoing Work of Sharing LGBTQ Stories

On November 6th, 68% of Massachusetts voters took a decisive stand against discrimination by voting to maintain the transgender accommodations protections that were signed into law in 2016! After a full year of a concerted statewide education campaign, those of us who fought to keep these civil rights protections have every reason to celebrate!

The vote to maintain these civil rights protections is an important victory and all of the organizations and individuals who worked so hard on it can feel very proud of achieving this. Yet, as SpeakOUT well knows, our work does not end here.

According to a 2015 National School Climate Survey administered by GLSEN, 58% of LGBTQ youth felt unsafe at school due to sexual orientation and 43% felt unsafe at school due to gender identification. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes clear that for youth to thrive in their schools and communities, they need to feel socially, emotionally, and physically safe and supported.

A positive school climate is associated with decreased depression, suicidal feelings, substance use, and unexcused school absences among LGBQ students (trans students were not included). Within schools that have an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, students were less likely to hear “gay” used in a negative way often or frequently (60% compared to 77% of other students); and less likely to hear negative remarks about gender expression often or frequently (60% vs. 67%).

SpeakOUT has been sharing our #ProudStories for decades with informal storytelling to help create LGBTQ-supportive spaces in middle and high schools in our region. As part of a new initiative, we are expanding our work into elementary level as well, looking for age-appropriate ways to share our stories and educate about difference and inclusivity.

2018 has been busy and productive! Along with conducting our usual speaking engagements throughout Greater Boston, we have also spoken as far north as Lynn and Newburyport, as far south as Weymouth and Stoughton, and as far west as Hadley! Other highlights this year include:

  • SpeakOUT speakers and others presented their personal stories of being LGBTQ veterans at the Boston Public Library in November.

    SpeakOUT’s Executive Director and two speakers presented a workshop at the LGBT Elders in an Ever-Changing World Conference at Salem State University in March, encouraging more senior services to share LGBTQ stories in their programming.

  • SpeakOUT initiated a $500 scholarship for LGBTQ students, awarding our first 2018 SpeakOUT Scholarship to a student at Emerson College. (This year we are expanding to at least two $500 scholarships! Your support helps this continue!)
  • SpeakOUT co-sponsored, along with The History Project, Ask & Tell: The History and Personal Stories of LGBTQ Veterans at the Boston Public Library in honor of Veterans Day.
  • SpeakOUT provided transgender speakers for a variety of educational forums across the area, including businesses, faith communities, public libraries and community organizations to ensure their constituencies had more information about the #YesOn3 campaign.

#ProudStories! We know that our proven style of community engagement works to change the way our audiences see LGBTQ people. Sharing our diverse stories in a variety of settings opens up dialogue that enhances understanding and positively affects the climate of the places where we speak. A recent business client shared these reflections with us:

“This is the second time SpeakOUT has come to Bain for an office-wide speaker series on LGBTQ topics, and each event was very well attended and anticipated. Each speaker’s personal story helped to drive awareness of LGBTQ issues in a real and relatable way, prompting ongoing conversations between Bain’s LGBTQ group and allies. The panel’s willingness to answer questions provided Bain employees with practical ways to show support for the LGBTQ community, both personally and politically. SpeakOUT’s speakers are professional, open and knowledgeable. We would absolutely consider bringing them in again in the future.”

Though we do charge for our engagements, we also conduct pro bono engagements for clients who don’t have the resources to pay for our services. We never want to turn down anyone who is committed to creating safer spaces for LGBTQ people! Consider making a gift during our year-end appeal to help sustain our work and allow us to continue our pro bono work in the community!

A wonderful way to make a deeper financial commitment to SpeakOUT is to become a monthly donor, allowing you to spread out your donation in smaller increments. It’s easy to set up on our Network for Good page and it will automatically be taken care of for you throughout the year!

Thank you for supporting the ongoing work of SpeakOUT. The SpeakOUT community wishes you a happy and healthy 2019!


Ellyn Ruthstrom

Executive Director


P.S. SpeakOUT has a 46-year legacy of sharing #ProudStories throughout the region. This year, for donors of $150 or more we will thank you with our new #ProudStories t-shirts!