Group getting the word out about discrimination<BR>The Maine Archive on the Queer Resources Directory

Tuesday February 25, 1997

Group getting the word out about discrimination

The Maine Speakout Project for Equal Rights has two needs. The first is for opportunities to address community groups on the subject of discrimination based on sexual orientation. The second is for volunteers to join members working on this project.

Jonathan Lee directs the Portland-based program whose advisory committee includes many notable Mainers.

Lee said the group's intent is to be all-inclusive, with individuals working in the organization who represent all faiths, political parties, and walks of life.

The mission of the organization ''is to promote respect and understanding among persons of differing sexual orientations.''

To that end, the organization has trained 190 volunteers from Aroostook County to York County as guest speakers, and is working to establish Speakout chapters in each county.

Those who have completed the eight-hour training program are prepared to address community groups upon request.

Speakers, usually a man and a woman, talk about direct or indirect personal experiences with discrimination and then participate in a question-and-answer period. The presentations last approximately one-half hour.

Lee will meet with several county groups next month, and he particularly invites anyone interested in this subject to attend a Speakout meeting at 6 p.m. March 12 at St. Michael's Center, 1066 Kenduskeag Ave., Bangor.

People who wish to volunteer or who just want more information about the organization are welcome.

''We are working very hard to make ourselves known as a free community resource so we can have many more of these discussions in our towns,'' Lee said.

''We are trying to do workplace forums and talk with school administrators to let them know we are here and available.'' But, he added, ''we need to get more people trained.''

Our area has four volunteer coordinators to contact for more information. In Penobscot County, the coordinator is Janet May, 862-5907; Hancock County, Dottie Stillman, 244-9053; Knox County, Lucie Bauer, 236-4734; and Aroostook County, Deb Madore, 768-3056.

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