The Brandenton Herald brings us a story of a Florida youth group that created an alternative prom for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) high-schoolers of the Sarasota area. Unlike, some of the stories that we would typically hear of this time of year, the prom was created not as a reaction to same-sex couples being banned from their own high school proms, but more as a way to build community and give youth a place where they could really feel comfortable without second thoughts.
“It’s not that they’re not welcome at their own proms, but this is an alternative where they don’t have to worry at all when they walk through the door about who they come in with. Whether they come with their friends, partners, or come alone, we want them to feel that this is a welcoming place,” said Mark Steinwachs, prom co-chair and an ALSO Youth board member.
“We feel it’s not only important for the youth who come, but it’s important for people to know that we’re creating a supportive community. The message goes far beyond this night into something much larger,” Steinwachs said. “We’re trying to create an atmosphere that supports its youth and adults.”
What I found most encouraging about this story were some of the quotes from the kids themselves about how accepting their environment already is:
It certainly felt inviting to David Wecke, a 17-year-old student at Suncoast Polytechnic High School in Sarasota who considers himself bisexual or questioning at the moment. Wecke said his home and high school life are pretty accepting of his situation.
“My whole family supports me and my sexuality, and they don’t have any problem with it. At school, it’s a few teachers, but my fellow students are accepting of it,” he said.
For Felicia Cortes, a 17-year-old student at Southeast High School in Bradenton who is bisexual, the alternative prom was a more affordable opportunity to her high school prom and a chance to wear a dress she felt comfortable in. Cortes says her bisexuality is no big deal at school or at home either.
“My parents say if you are or aren’t, I still love you, and that’s all that matters.”