For most high school students, prom night is a milestone, something to look back on and remember fondly. But for those teens who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, prom night can be a huge source of anxiety. While their classmates are busy lining up the perfect outfit and date, queer students often have to worry about whether they will be harassed at the dance or excluded from it altogether.
The uncertainty of acceptance and the potential risk of bullying and harassment has kept and continues to keep LGBTQ+ students on the outskirts of their school communities. According to the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) 2021 National School Climate Survey, 78.8% of LGBTQ+ students avoided school functions or extracurricular activities because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable. “No teenager should worry about if they’ll be seen for who they are, celebrated for their courage, and loved unconditionally,” says Percy Neavez (he|him|his), Youth Resource Specialist at the LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada.
A sense of belonging and community at schools can make all the difference to LGBTQ+ youth.