Outright Vermont gets new executive director

12/10/07 7:37AM By Melody Bodette

(Host) Vermont's only organization for gay, lesbian and transgender youth has a new executive director.

Connecticut Native Christopher Neff has taken over as the head of the nearly 20-year old group. Neff says he's proud to be the head of one of the most innovative programs in the country especially because it focuses on youth. 

And he says that while Vermont may seem supportive of gay and lesbian youth, numbers tell a different story:

(Neff) "I think every year you see rates of bullying and harassment that are too high. Attempted, and rates of suicide that are too high. Higher rates of students that are not going to class because they're afraid of what people are going to say to them."

(Host) Neff says he plans to continue Outright's mission to visit schools around the state to provide teens with information they might not get otherwise.

Those presentations have been at the center of controversy in the past several years with parents in Swanton and Williston speaking out against the group's visits to schools.

Neff says it's important that information is available especially in less populated parts of the state:

(Neff) "Vermont is a great state, but it's a rural state and like all rural states, there are rural issues to deal with, being queer in rural schools in small towns, Even though there is a trend, that most people think that we've made headway, we have, but it's still tough to be queer in rural schools walking down hallways."

(Host) Neff hopes to raise the visibility of gay and lesbian youth in the state and to make Vermont the healthiest place in the country for them.

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