A new volunteer collective is organising Scotland’s biggest LGBT+ Youth Prom to make sure young people have a positive experience graduating from school.
A concept born in America, the graduation ‘prom’ is usually a party held in school or at a local venue for senior pupils leaving school for the final time, and is becoming increasingly popular in Scotland.
Pride Proms Project is being targeted at school leavers close to 16-18 year olds and is organised by a group of volunteers with education, youth work and LGBT+ backgrounds who want to reduce the feeling of exclusion that some LGBT young people experience.
They’re organising the first event in Glasgow in September and hope to take it around the country in the future too.
Ruth McGill is one of the organisers and told Pink Saltire she’s been overwhelmed with the positive reaction to the idea already:
“The response to organising our first event has been amazing! We’ve been working up to this for 8 months and recently went out to the community asking for prom dresses for our Promtastic initiative, expecting maybe a dozen to be donated from local shops or individuals. What actually happened was over 100 dresses came flooding in – people’s generosity has been fantastic!”
Ruth explained the person who inspired the project is now working to make things better for other LGBT young people, “Pride Proms was inspired by one of our team Jena when we were comparing different personal experiences during high school. Jena and her friends wished there was an inclusive LGBT prom as they didn’t feel they could attend their own school prom openly. So we’re working together to make it happen for everyone now.”
She continued, “Ofcourse there’s some really good examples of schools being fully inclusive and making sure LGBT young people can be themselves openly at school, but its not the majority of schools unfortunately. We still have lots of work to do in ensuring every school is a positive experience for LGBT young people. So until then, Pride Proms will be there. We’re offering a safe, open, inclusive social space for young people to celebrate with their friends.
Pride Proms will include a three course meal, entertainment from local talent, LGBT stalls, and information on dealing with anxiety and poor mental health as well as a range of other services for LGBT young people. Research from the TIE Campaign published in 2016 identified that nearly half of LGBT pupils had self-harmed due to bullying at school and almost 1 in 3 had attempted suicide.