OutCasting, established in 2011, 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.
Here's a four minute video showing how students work at OutCasting.
No — no charges, fees, or dues of any kind from students or schools. 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.
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, Mamaroneck, Masters, New Rochelle, Ossining, Pelham, Pleasantville, Port Chester, Rye Country Day, Rye Neck, Scarsdale, and Walter Panas, as well as Manhattanville and Hunter Colleges.
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)
Peer/GSA/NPFH/Equality Club Faculty Advisor
Girls Varsity Golf Coach
Edgemont Junior-Senior High School
OutCasting's content has been selected for the permanent collection of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, a project of public broadcaster WGBH in Boston and the Library of Congress. Our website is also being preserved by the Library as part of the historical record of the United States.
OutCasting's creator and executive producer, Marc Sophos, was awarded an Adult Leadership Award in 2022 by GLSEN Lower Hudson Valley.
“I am so proud to be honored by an organization as vital to our LGBTQ youth as GLSEN,” Marc said. “Our work at OutCasting brings together the different threads of my life, and I’m very fortunate to be able to provide an environment for today’s youth that could have done so much good for me when I was young. It’s unbelievably rewarding.”
He was also awarded an AARP Purpose Prize Fellowship in 2018 for his leadership of OutCasting. 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."
"... 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."
Students in the program have benefited through
It's similar to a sports team or a school play — except it's once a week instead of every day, and we run year-round.
Our production sessions are normally three hours long and are held once a week, typically in the late afternoon or evening hours, depending on our youth broadcasters' schedules and preferences.
Our programs are released on the first of each month — a firm deadline that our affiliate stations depend on — so our production schedule is continuous, and consistent in-person attendance is required.
Participants must be able to get to our studio in southern Westchester every week, whether they drive themselves, carpool with others, or get rides from parents. Our studio is not easily reached by mass transportation, so car travel is required.
The minimum commitment is one calendar year. Throughout the history of OutCasting, though, most participants have stayed for longer periods, often two to four years. These long-term participants are the ones who have gotten the most powerful experiences at OutCasting, had more of their work featured on the air, and most effectively enhanced their resumes and college applications. Parents are expected to support the commitments their children make to the program, ensuring consistent attendance and fulfillment of the yearlong minimum commitment.
If this sounds rigorous, it's not by accident. We exist in the professional world of public media, where deadlines must be met consistently. Our young participants benefit in many ways; this includes learning to adhere to professional standards, which gives them important skills and attitudes that serve them well when they move on to college and then into their careers.
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.
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.
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 two versions:
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:
If you're interested, please fill out the form here:
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.
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:
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 200 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
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 while avoiding the outing of closeted students to the extent possible.
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!
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
Find OutCasting wherever you get your podcasts