Creating a more inclusive prom for LGBTQ youth

Pride month is a time for celebration. But for some LGBTQ youth it can be difficult finding a space to celebrate their identity and the end of the school year—and high school dances aren’t always the best place to party.So when Nate Turarie discovered Pride Prom, he was relieved to have found a place where he would feel safe and accepted.“In your youth you’re finding out a lot about yourself, like your sexuality and gender. But the tough thing is, during Pride the events are mostly for adults. So it’s really difficult as a youth to celebrate yourself during Pride.”Pride Prom, organized by Supporting Our Youth (SOY) which is a program out of the Sherbourne Health Centre, aims to remove that discomfort and allow LGBTQ youth a chance to celebrate. The event is one of few in Ontario that is geared specifically for LGBTQ youth to celebrate pride, and it receives 150 to 200 attendees. Pride Prom is similar to a high school dance but it’s a “special space where youth get to be who they are” said SOY coordinator Clare Nobbs.She said high school proms are becoming more inclusive but it’s still common for LGBTQ youth to feel alienated.Article Continued BelowAnd with traditions like prom king and queen or music solely about heterosexual romance, Turarie said prom can cause even more discomfort and exclusion for LGBTQ youth. When he went to his friend’s prom three years ago, it wasn’t exactly a night to remember.“It was an absolutely terrible experience for me. I didn’t get harassed or get terrible glares—which is good—I wasn’t scared but I still didn’t feel comfortable,” he said. “A lack of fear doesn’t mean happiness.”