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Image credit: DoSomething

Fight for acceptance in schools and ‘Take Back the Prom’ with DoSomething and GLAAD

April 8, 2019

Prom should be a night of celebration; a celebration of your high school achievements, and a celebration of the peers that have supported you in fulfilling them. However, proms have not always been—and continue to not always be—safe spaces for all students.

According to a 2019 study conducted by DoSomething, “thousands [of students] will face discrimination on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, body type, ability, income, or even clothing choice.” We need to recognize that students all over the U.S. are currently being treated unfairly, and are often explicitly told that they are not allowed to attend their school’s prom because of their identity.

This is why DoSomething has launched the ‘Take Back the Prom’ initiative; a program that aims to create a movement for more inclusive proms. GLAAD has proudly partnered with DoSomething to ‘Take Back the Prom’; stressing that there is still a concerning number LGBTQ+ students—especially those of intersecting identities—that are discriminated against in school.

In order to tackle these inequalities, ‘Take Back the Prom’ has spearheaded various programs you can get involved with:

1. Prom Outfit Donations: Proms can be extremely costly, with the average student spending approximately $1,100 on the affair. This is why DoSomething has created a service that allows for you to donate your gently-used prom outfit to a fellow student in need. This service is the largest youth-led donation drive for prom outfits.

2. National Map of Discrimination: DoSomething has created a virtual map that allows for you to read and learn more about the discriminatory experiences that students have faced at their proms.

3. Gender-Inclusive Courts: Following a national survey, “48.6% of LGBTQ+ students reported that their school had gender-specific homecoming courts, prom kings/queens, or other types of honors at dances.” DoSomething is challenging gendered proms by creating an advocacy campaign, giving students one-on-one coaching to create gender-inclusive prom courts at their schools.

4. Anxiety Textline: Proms can be extremely anxiety-inducing - which is why DoSomething have created a text-based service where students can share tips and receive advice on anxiety related to relationships, drinking, body image, financial concerns, and other prom-related challenges.

There have been one too many instances of students being discriminated against at prom. For example, Claudetteia Love, a lesbian high school student, was barred from attending her prom because she requested to wear a tuxedo instead of a dress. Despite being a stellar student, her high school principal defended the decision to bar her. The principal claimed that Love was violating the prom dress code by choosing to wear a tux. However, students came to Love’s defense; circulating a petition and getting the school board president involved. Love and her peers managed to change the principal’s mind and she was consequently allowed to attend prom in her tuxedo—setting a new precedent at her school.

It is crucial that all students know their rights; public school administrations cannot deny you the right to be yourself at prom, and there are laws to protect you. ‘Take Back the Prom’ is empowering youth to create change, so that all students can feel free to be their truest selves at school.

HOW YOU CAN #TakeBackTheProm WITH US

Join GLAAD and DoSomething as we #TakeBackTheProm and help create inclusive proms nationwide.

Go to @dosomething to join the movement and follow the campaign through @glaad on social media!

Kleio Kartalis is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and a senior at New York University studying Global Liberal Studies - Politics, Rights and Development, with minors in Social and Public Policy, Philosophy and French. She currently serves as the Youth Engagement Intern at GLAAD.

the voice and vision of a new generation