The high school prom is a cherished tradition. It’s a celebratory experience where students say farewell to high school and hello to the next phase of life. But prom has not always been a welcoming, positive experience for every student.
In the past, many Hamilton students who identified as LGBTQI often missed out on that end-of-school marker because they felt unwelcome. In 2008, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board initiated the “Rainbow Prom,” to address that exclusion and it has since grown in stature and importance to high school students from across the city.
Saltfleet District High School’s Positive Space student group hosted the Rainbow Prom for the second time—this year supported by a grant from HCF’s Youth Advisory Council.
“The students are always looking for funding,” says teacher advisor Dubravka Prica. “HCF’s grant has allowed us to rent a banquet hall, hire a DJ, decorate with our Rainbow theme, and have a sit-down dinner for everyone attending—just like all the other proms.”
Rainbow Prom is an important event for many students who do not attend their own school prom because of feelings of anxiety, discomfort or exclusion. But every student deserves a prom—one that is affordable and makes a person feel welcome and safe.
Saltfleet District students Lillith Grace, Matthew Demers and Raisa Nevills are part of the organizing team and members of the school’s Positive Space.
“There’s absolutely no judgment at the Rainbow Prom,” says Lillith, “It doesn’t matter who you bring, what you wear, your sexual orientation or gender identity—you’re in good, welcoming company.” “It’s a great place for anyone to really be themselves,” adds Matthew.
Saltfleet District students who have attended Rainbow Prom agree that the goal of encouraging students to come together and celebrate a common cause—feeling safe, happy and included—has been a tremendous success.
Rainbow Prom is open to students from both school boards and students who have already graduated—absolutely everyone is welcome to this event explains Raisa. “You can come to the Prom knowing no one and leave with new friends.”
Excerpt from 2015 Annual Report