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News - May 1996

How to start a youth group

By Penny Culliton

Below is information about Monadnock Outright, a gay/straight youth alliance (NOT meeting in a school) for ages 14-22. We are relatively new and still in the process of applying for non-profit organization status. We have been meeting for a little over a year. For information contact Culliton at culliton@jlc.net

THIS IS HOW I GOT THE GROUP STARTED:

  1. I asked at a local P-FLAG meeting who was interested.

  2. I used lists I had gotten from attending various conferences; on these lists were people who had signed up as being interested in supporting l/g/b/t youth.

  3. I sent forms out asking if the above people were still interested (with SASE).

  4. I checked with a local youth center to see when time and space would be available and how much it would cost ($10) per session.

  5. Another P-FLAGer (gay man, late forties) knew several wonderful people who were interested in helping form the group; we did not get any youth interest at first.

  6. I took all the positive responses from interested adults and then sent each one of those people a form asking what night (Sunday and Thursday were the 2 possibilities) they could facilitate a two-hour meeting once or twice a month. I also set up an initial planning meeting at the youth center.

  7. We all met that night for the planning session, called ourselves the Board of Directors, and ironed out the details.

  8. I obtained copies of Seacoast Outright's guidelines and we used these plus our own experience in writing our own guidelines.

  9. We ran ads (some paid and some PSAs) in the local papers, and I sent out mailings to the Health, English/Drama, and Guidance departments of all local high schools. We also announced in gay/lesbian newsletters.

  10. I designed and printed up fliers and posters. A person on the Board with a copier made copies and we posted them in libraries and post offices as well as some restaurants, stores and health-clubs. When we saw someone had removed one, we put it back up.

  11. WE WAITED A MONTH before any youths showed up. You have to be patient!! We now even have youth Board members as well as adults, though.


Here is the letter we sent out to schools and churches, as well as counselors, etc.:

Monadnock Outright's mission is to provide a safe, drug-free, and confidential way for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning youths as well as their friends and allies to meet, share experiences, form friendships, and learn from one another. We have been going strong since February of 1995!

Meetings are held every Thursday from 7-8:30 PM at The Place to Go on Route 202 North in Peterborough (46 Concord Street, next to Monadnock Worksource).

Meetings are facilitated by adult volunteers who are dedicated to ending the isolation and silence that are so often a problem for our gay youth and their friends. One of our main goals is to help curb the loss of self-esteem that all too often pushes our youth towards substance abuse and suicide. In addition to support and socializing, we provide a small library with books and magazines and plan to show educational videos as well as feature guest speakers when possible. Beyond that, Monadnock Outright's direction is determined by the youths who attend our meetings.

If you have any questions at all, please call Penny Culliton, at... ; or Gordon Sherman at.... Our mailing address is 2 Putnam St. #1, Wilton, NH 03086, in care of Penny Culliton.

This is the form used when an adult wants to volunteer as a facilitator:

Name:_______________  Age:_________  Nick Name:_______________ Date:__________
Check one: __Gay Man  __Lesbian  __Bisexual: __M __F   __Hetero. Ally: __M __F
Address:______________________________________________________________________
Home phone:_______________________ Best times to call:________________________
Work phone: ______________________ Best times to call:________________________
Occupation/Place of employment:_______________________________________________

If you need additional space on any of the following questions, feel free to attach an additional page.

  1. Why do you want to join MONADNOCK OUTRIGHT?

  2. What perspectives to you bring to MONADNOCK OUTRIGHT? What message do you have to offer to the young people with whom you come in contact?

  3. What experience have you had, if any, with youth groups, public speaking, leading workshops, counseling, helping, community outreach, fund raising, or publicity

  4. How do you feel about being gay, lesbian, or bisexual (or if you're an ally, how do you feel about gay, lesbian, bisexual people)? What role does your sexual orientation play in your life? Have you ever participated in gay, lesbian or bisexual groups, activities, or events? If so, which ones?

  5. Please discuss your awareness of forms of oppression other than homophobia, including details of your own background and experience. What are the strong and weak points in your awareness? Have you been active in trying to end other forms of oppression? If so, how?

  6. Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

  7. What personal experiences with gay, lesbian, and bisexual people and/or with homophobia have most influenced you?

  8. Discuss the range of things a heterosexual person can do to be a good ally to bisexual, lesbian, and gay people. In what ways have you tried to be a good ally?

  9. MONADNOCK OUTRIGHT is structured to allow maximum participation in decision making by all of its members by consensus, while still leaving final control to its Board. How do you feel about this organizational structure?


These are the adult volunteer policies and guidelines for our facilitators:

The volunteer is in a unique role to have first line contact with youth members and identify the varied needs that may be expressed by these individuals. specifically, the volunteer is in a position to use that information to 1) guide youth to appropriate resources, 2) encourage improved social interactions with other youth, 3) act as a role model, and 4) share their experiences with other Monadnock Outright representatives to improve the organization.

  1. Confidentiality is essential; at no time will any adult leader disclose the identities of any person involved with or in contact with Monadnock Outright, without specific consent from the individual, and the Board of Directors if the person is a youth, or except as required by law.

  2. Adult facilitators are not crisis counselors; when a youth is in crisis or needs special help, adults should refer the youth for professional help. Therefore, adult leaders should familiarize themselves with the directory of resources that will be available at every youth meeting.

  3. Adult facilitators should not establish and/or pursue a sexual or intimate relationship with any person under 22 years of age who utilizes any service or program of Monadnock Outright.

  4. Youth meetings will not be held unless there are at least two adult facilitators present, one of whom will be a sexual minority whenever possible.

  5. Youth are vulnerable to adults in positions of power; this may be especially true for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning youth and their heterosexual allies. Therefore, Monadnock Outright does not encourage adult facilitators interacting with youth 1:1 outside youth meetings. If the adult feels it is necessary and/or appropriate to interact with youth outside of meetings, Monadnock Outright asks that volunteers not do so without another adult present. Remain aware of youths' vulnerability and act professionally.

  6. When a situation arises where the appropriate course of action is unclear, the adult facilitator should consult with the Board of Directors before proceeding. If action is needed before the next Board meeting, the volunteer should consult with at least two Board members (not including him/herself but including one of the Board chairs).

  7. Adult volunteers should document and report to the Board Chairs or any other Board member a) any phone calls or contact with youth that is in any way related to significant family crisis, violence, physical or sexual abuse, suicide, runaway, harm to others, or other significant problems. b) any situations involving another adult volunteer that appear to be unethical or dangerous to youth members.

  8. All Monadnock Outright meetings where youth will be present are drug/alcohol-free environments. Please remember that adult volunteers are potential role models to youth, and representative of Monadnock Outright to community.

  9. Adult volunteers wishing to spend their personal money on youth are urged to channel that money through Monadnock Outright in the form of a donation.

  10. After each youth meeting, one of the facilitators will give a brief description of that evening's activities in the log book, including the names of all adult volunteers present and the number of youth attendees.

  11. The Board of Directors of Monadnock Outright may terminate a volunteer's association with Monadnock Outright if it determines that the individual has blatantly violated any of the above stated policies and/or it determines, in its sole discretion, that such termination is in the best interest of Monadnock Outright.

I have read the above, understand it, and agree to abide by the above policies.

Signature____________________________________ Date:_____________

Print name___________________________________


These are the guidelines for the youths who attend our meetings:

Monadnock Outright exists in order to provide a safe space for gay, lesbian, transgender and questioning youth as well as their friends and allies to meet, share experiences, form friendships, and learn from one another. All youth ages fourteen to twenty-two are welcome to attend. We usually begin our meetings by going around and having each person tell how his/her week has gone, etc. Then we discuss anything people feel they need to go into more depth about, and then we usually socialize informally. On some occasions, we have speakers or films.

In order to help make the group work in everyone's best interest, we've set up the following guidelines for our meetings:

  1. Respect Confidentiality. Confidentiality is something very important. It's not okay to share who was present or who said what. Also, if you see a group member outside the group in a public place, please use discretion. The member might not want his/her orientation revealed.

  2. Meetings begin at seven o'clock. It is helpful if everyone arrives on time and doesn't leave until the end of each meeting. If you come in late or leave early while a group discussion is in progress, please do so without drawing attention to yourself (if at all possible. )

  3. Inappropriate talk or discussion stifles discussion. Respect one another. If you disagree with a person's viewpoint, say so calmly and without judgment. Sexist, racist, homophobic, and other insensitive remarks are harmful. Please avoid talking over others or engaging in side talk. We need to learn to be sensitive and tolerant of each other. Appropriate (non-harmful) humor is encouraged; lust remember that some members may want to be serious.

  4. The use and/or possession of alcohol, drugs, and weapons is not permitted before and during the group. Those who smoke may do so outside the building and deposit cigarettes in a proper receptacle.


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