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OutCasting resources for educators

OutCasting, now in its 11th year, unites LGBTQ+ youth, straight allies, and the power of media in advocacy for a less unjust world.  We offer students opportunities to explore LGBTQ issues not only within our group but also with eminent experts and others who have in-depth knowledge of these issues and compelling stories to tell.  

As our student participants do this, they are able to talk about issues in their lives that they may not be comfortable talking about elsewhere.  LGBTQ+ and questioning students can become more comfortable in their identities and find a social context for their lives.  Straight allies learn what being a straight ally really means and how to incorporate it into their everyday lives.

Read our school outreach letter [pdf], which provides a complete overview of the program from a perspective that is tailored to educators.

 

Students in the program have benefited through

  • being part of a safe and supportive community
  • learning to thrive in a friendly yet professional and challenging environment
  • earning strong college and job recommendations and community service hours
  •  developing skills that few young people have the chance to acquire, including
    • journalism
    • law and public policy
    • research
    • interviewing
    • writing and speaking for broadcast
    • broadcast and recording techniques in our professionally equipped studio
    • digital editing and production
    • promotion
    • professional communication
    • substantive knowledge about important issues
    • empowering themselves by doing something that matters in a turbulent world

 

OutCasting contributes to the public education phase of LGBTQ+ advocacy, helping pave the way for better public policy, by disseminating the rarely heard perspectives and experiences of LGBTQ+ youth and straight allies.  The programs are heard on public radio stations in both the United States and Europe as well as online. 

Participation empowers students to contribute actively to this important civil rights movement.

No — no charges, fees, or dues of any kind.  OutCasting is funded by tax deductible donations from listeners, businesses, foundations, and others who support our mission of uniting LGBTQ+ youth, straight allies, and the power of media in advocacy for a less unjust world.

We provide experiences that can be influential when students apply to college.  Some have called OutCasting the most important experience of their high school years.  Some have called it life changing

Quotes:

  • "I've learned that it's OK to be questioning myself, questioning who I am, because no matter what conclusion I come to, there's people around me who will support me and who will have gone through a lot of the same things I have....  I realize now that it's an act of rebellion to just exist as we are; it's an act of political defiance."

  • "I would never talk about people's feelings about gender and sexuality this deeply anywhere else, and I really feel comfortable doing it here."

  • "Working at OutCasting has been my resume standout.  I applied for an internship and I remember the woman interviewing me was so impressed that I worked at OutCasting.  She was like, "I've never seen an applicant who has anything like this before.  It's so great that you're involved in activism and radio."  And she was really excited.  And I think that in the future, this will really definitely be really helpful."

  • "OutCasting has absolutely been a vital part of my resume.   I wrote about OutCasting for my college application because I knew that this was a project that I'd really committed myself to, and I was proud that I'd committed myself to this project."

  • "Because radio is the ultimate listening medium, I feel that OutCasting is a really special way that we as a community can continue to make ourselves visible to each other and to the greater world."

  • "OutCasting has made me stand out in my studies but also in my professional life.  Whenever I hand somebody a resume, I always get a comment about OutCasting.  I think they're so moved by it because not only is this topic relevant and important, but OutCasting provides you with so much practical experience for so many different avenues that no matter what your passions are, you'll be able to apply what you've learned."

  • "We always encouraged hard work and professionalism with each other, [and] we had so much fun.  We just liked being together and being in the studio and creating something together.  OutCasting really taught me how to tune in to other people."

  • "OutCasting friendships are so special.  You have so much fun together and make so many memories, and you just develop this really intense respect for each other after seeing what everyone can do and hearing what everyone has to say.  Participants are encouraged but not pressured to be vulnerable with each other, and that is a serious building block to really strong friendships."

  • "I could never have imagined how huge of an impact radio would have on my life until I started working on OutCasting.

    "In the past, my passion for LGBT rights was displayed as anger towards oppressors and anti-LGBT activists.  It made me furious that my friends and family were being hurt by ignorance and hatred. I was angry at other people for saying and doing these hurtful things, but I was also angry at myself for not doing more to support my loved ones.

    "OutCasting has provided me with a fun and creative outlet to channel my anger into positivity and education that everyone can use.

    "Knowing that I’m making a difference through this show is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world, and the people I have become friends with during this process are some of the funniest, most compassionate, and talented people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

    "I know that I’ll take this experience with me, not only in college, but for the rest of my life.  I have gained valuable skills in communication and networking, but I have also gotten to witness my growth as a person and ally.  OutCasting has inspired me to carry on activism and radio communications throughout my journey into young adulthood, and I’m so deeply humbled and grateful to have this experience."

  • "I don't see people like me in the media.  I don't hear the radio speaking about people like me that are normal out teens that don't have a lot of issues but still on occasion don't feel represented in the world.

    "Just talking to people about sex ed and relationships has really helped me as I develop.  I'm a teenager who dates boys.  It's really helpful to have these people answering my questions about dating.

    "OutCasting kind of deals with the everyday part of things.  We may not sometimes tackle the big issues like suicide in every episode but the media seems to only focus on those types of things.  But we focus on the everyday things like LGBT people getting representation in court and talking about healthy teen relationships.

    "The normalization of LGBT youth is what we are about.  I think we are still discovering why we need something like this.

    "I believe that kids today are raised to know what racism is and know what's racist, what's not racist, and I kind of see that in the future kids will learn what's respectful to the LGBT community."

  • "What does OutCasting mean to me?  As a queer 18 year old girl who is planning on going into the communications field, it's given me a constructive way of articulating issues that impact my daily life, as well as valuable experience for my future career.

    "But beyond that, OutCasting has given me opportunities to meet and work with people who I can relate to and share ideas with that I would never have had otherwise in high school.  I have become much more comfortable in discussing my own queerness as well as my opinions on queer issues in general, now that I've pretty much shared them with the world.  There is so much to cover in the world of queer issues, and I feel like we've barely scratched the surface, even with the wide variety of people we've spoken with and topics we've covered.

    "I am ridiculously proud to say that I've been a part of OutCasting.  I hope it continues to be a voice for queer youth, and I hope that when the current members are off to college, the new ones will continue to expand the show.  OutCasting should continue to be a voice for queer youth across the sexuality and gender spectrum and continue giving opportunities to students willing to become involved."

Dr. Mitch Shapiro of Edgemont Junior-Senior High School:

As a school psychologist and the GSA advisor at Edgemont High School for the past 11 years, I want to offer my endorsement of OutCasting.  During that time, I have seen many students benefit from their work there.  Marc's program gives students a unique opportunity to find themselves and each other and gives them a safe haven to express their ideas.  In addition, it allows them to meet interesting people, learn about their struggles and learn media skills that will potentially benefit those who end up pursuing careers in media or broadcasting.  Mostly, the program gives teens a chance to tell the world about what it's like to be an LGBTQIA+ teen (or ally) in today's increasingly polarized culture which is something that no other legitimate outlet will allow.  Marc has always been up front with the kids that they can participate as much or as little as they wish but that they must have the consent of their parents to do so.  Though some of our junior high kids have been more reluctant to ask their parents for permission (though at least one has participated at that age), most of our high school kids' parents have viewed OutCasting as any other extracurricular activity and gladly offered their endorsement.

Mitch Shapiro, PsyD (he, him, his)
School Psychologist
Peer/GSA/NPFH/Equality Club Faculty Advisor
Girls Varsity Golf Coach
Edgemont Junior-Senior High School

 

Pacifica Congratulates Marc Sophos, Executive Producer of OutCasting, Named 2018 AARP Purpose Prize Fellow — Pacifica Radio Network

“When do [the media talk] about LGBTQ youth?” Sophos considered. “When they kill themselves.  You’ve got the obligatory television news story with the candlelight vigil, and the kids crying, saying they didn’t see this coming….but nothing else, no context, no questions.  What issues were going on in their lives?  Is being LGBTQ a risk factor for suicide?”


Young, Queer, On the Air — The Advocate

"In-depth, well researched, and punchy in the right ways... NPR-level production values....  What makes all this remarkable is that most of the people working on the show... are barely old enough to drive."

Public radio gives LGBT youth a voice — GLAAD

"... some of the most honest and accurate representations of LGBT and allied youth in the media"


'Outcasting' Radio Program Elevates Lives Of Queer Youth — Huffington Post

"[OutCasting] injects an LGBT narrative into the conversation surrounding mainstream radio that historically lacks this kind of perspective."

WDFH radio program gives Lower Hudson Valley's gay youths a voice [pdf] — The Journal News (front page article coinciding with OutCasting's first broadcast on WDFH, October 2011)

"Their ideas were thoughtful and engaging.  Their mission was clear: to be a resource for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youths and to provide a meaningful voice for this often marginalized group."

LGBTQ+ students, closeted or out, are welcome, as are straight allies — from within your GSA or anywhere in the student body.

Over the years, some 60 students have participated from schools including Brewster, Briarcliff, Chappaqua (Horace Greeley), Clarkstown North, Clarkstown South, Croton-Harmon, Dobbs Ferry, Eastchester, Edgemont, Hastings, Masters, New Rochelle, Ossining, Pelham, Pleasantville, Port Chester, Rye Country Day, Rye Neck, Scarsdale, and Walter Panas, as well as Manhattanville and Hunter Colleges.

Please consider inviting an OutCasting producer to speak to your students during a GSA meeting (or at any other convenient time) so that we can talk with them directly about OutCasting and answer their questions.  

We've found that this is the only method that works; having advisors or other school personnel discuss it with the students ahead of time has never resulted in anyone joining the program.

For this reason, if your GSA norm is that officers or other students in your GSA make decisions about what guests should be invited, we would very much appreciate the opportunity to talk with these officers directly before they make the decision.

A video about youth participation at OutCasting is available here.

Here are some resources that explain more about OutCasting.  Please feel free to contact us if you have additional questions.

Sure.  Here are two versions:

  • poster with meeting [pdf] — a poster (formatted to print in color 11 x 17) that you can post in your school to publicize a gathering of students when we are visiting your school to meet with you and prospective student participants.  There is space at the bottom for you to write the day, date, time, and location of the meeting.  Alternatively, with a couple of days' notice, we can fill the information in and send you a customized pdf of the poster.
  • poster without meeting [pdf] — a poster (same format) that you can post to publicize OutCasting in situations where we are not visiting your school.  This version directs students directly to the application page on our web site.

This is a copy-and-paste invitation to students to join OutCasting, public radio's award-winning nationally-distributed LGBTQ youth programs.  If you can make it available to them via e-mail, social media, or whatever's most convenient, that would be great.

Students -- You're invited to apply to join OutCasting Media, which produces public radio's nationally-distributed LGBTQ youth programs and podcasts.  It's a rare opportunity to be part of a highly meaningful experience, explore LGBTQ issues in depth with noted experts, connect with the larger LGBTQ community, and join in the movement for LGBTQ equality.

Along the way, you'll gain important skills in journalism, interviewing, researching, writing and speaking for broadcast, and more.  Graduates of our program report that participation in OutCasting is a stellar experience to have on college and job applications.

LGBTQ students (out or closeted) and straight allies are welcome.

Here's a video showing what it's like:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyAh9UFNeFw

If you're interested, please fill out the form here:

    https://mfpg.org/apply

Then we'll talk and see if you're a good fit for OutCasting.  Filling out the form doesn't obligate you to join; it's just the first step in getting in touch with each other.

Thanks!

Students’ participation is highly meaningful to them, life-changing in some cases.  OutCasting plays a role in public advocacy for a less unjust world by educating listeners on a wide variety of LGBTQ issues as seen from the rarely-heard perspectives of LGBTQ youth and straight allies.

It can be particularly valuable for students who may be struggling with possible LGBTQ identity issues.

It is extremely rare that people of this age have the opportunity to work substantively on nationally distributed public radio programs, so participation at OutCasting is a rare distinction on job and college applications.  There are no charges or fees.  The students can be LGBTQ (closeted or out), straight allies, or interested because of other things, including journalism, audio production, podcasting, and social media.  

We know that it’s a difficult time to be a young person.  High school students have tremendous demands on them with little of the security previous generations have enjoyed.  In an environment that is both highly competitive and highly divisive, kids — especially the most vulnerable ones in our schools — don’t always feel their voices are heard.

In the course of their work at OutCasting, our young participants connect to a larger community, helping them become more comfortable in their identity and build confidence and self-esteem.  Our programs cover LGBTQ issues with dignity and in substantial depth, giving voice to LGBTQ youth and straight allies rarely heard in the mainstream media.

We have covered topics particular to LGBTQ youth, including dating while queer in high school, healthy relationships, bullying and suicide prevention, coming out, medical transition for transgender teens, conversion therapy, the importance of safe spaces, and education policy.
 
We have also covered general LGBTQ topics, including LGBTQ+ issues in religion, intersex, asexuality, nonbinary identity, the legal and political issues surrounding marriage equality, obstacles to trans equality, the history of the LGBTQ+ equality movement, what it means to be a straight ally, hate crimes, and divisions and prejudices within the community.

We don’t seek celebrity guests; we look for people who are highly authoritative in their fields or who have compelling stories to tell.  Notable guests have included:

  • Evan Wolfson, the civil rights attorney widely considered a key architect of the marriage equality movement
  • Gilbert Baker, the legendary activist and creator of the Rainbow Flag
  • Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, whose ordination precipitated a worldwide split in the church over homosexuality

Read more topics covered on OutCasting »
Read more topics covered on OutCasting Overtime »

Unlike many internships, entry level jobs, and other settings where young people can gain experience, OutCasting puts them front and center.  They are not assistants in an otherwise adult-run environment; they select topics, research them, conduct interviews, and help edit them.  They write opinion and commentary pieces.  They receive extensive training and guidance along the way, and they are the voices of OutCasting.

OutCasting is led by Marc Sophos, the award-winning broadcast producer who conceptualized the program in 2006.  He's gay and didn't come out until his thirties, so he knows the pressures that LGBTQ+ youth can face, and he brings that sensitivity to his work at OutCasting.  He holds a BA in Telecommunication and a JD and is an attorney licensed to practice law in New York.  He has also worked at Westchester Public Radio, of which he was the founder, and at National Public Radio (NPR), NPR member station WKAR, and numerous commercial broadcast stations.  Read more »

Students can earn recommendations and references for colleges and jobs.  Because the professional level of experience students gain at OutCasting is very unusual for young people to have, these recommendations and references can have an outsized influence.

In addition, because MFPG is a nonprofit organization, students can earn community service hours as permitted or required by their schools.

OutCasting’s two broadcast programs are heard collectively on some 150 public radio stations in the U.S. and elsewhere.  They’re also available on our website and wherever you get your podcasts.  Read more »

Yes.  OutCasting is produced by Media for the Public Good, Inc. (MFPG), a Westchester-based nonprofit organization that is tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and in New York State.

Students should visit

https://mfpg.org/apply

The page includes an online application and a video there that describes OutCasting youth experiences.

A parental permission form is required for all youth under 18 years of age.  In addition, participants may opt in to being publicly identified; there is a separate form for that, and it is optional.

The forms describe the nature of OutCasting as a program that is created by LGBTQ+ youth and straight allies.  We have worked extensively with our attorneys to ensure that the forms give the necessary information to parents without necessarily outing closeted students to their parents.

 

LISTEN NOW

LGBTQ issues seen from the rarely heard perspectives of LGBTQ youth and straight allies — not by and for LGBTQ youth, but by LGBTQ youth and straight allies and for anyone who wants to better understand LGBTQ issues — parents, grandparents, kids, relatives, straight, LGBTQ, everyone!

OutCasting

... in-depth coverage of LGBTQ issues, featuring discussions with highly authoritative experts and people with compelling stories

OutCasting Overtime

... working extra hard to bring you commentaries, discussions, and perspectives from our youth participants

OutCasting Off the Clock

... having fun with the Ga[y]me Show, extra commentaries, and other behind-the scenes stuff

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Subscribe to our podcast feed or find OutCasting wherever you get your podcasts

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