It happened when a local CEO called Brooke MacDonald looking to buy prom
tickets for his son. The co-chair of Cincinnati's Gay, Lesbian and
Straight Education Network (GLSEN
) felt like the event had turned a corner.
The GLSEN prom, a night where young adults can bring whomever they want
to their prom, has long been an important GLSEN effort. Spring 2011
marks the third year that the Contemporary Arts Center
downtown hosts the event, which a party for the over-21 crowd upstairs
and a chaperoned affair downstairs for guests 21 and under.
"The kids are so excited," says MacDonald, 32, who grew up in Chicago and moved to Cincinnati almost five years ago.
The May 7 prom, while free for the underage crowd, acts as GLSEN's
biggest annual fundraiser. Adults pay $50 for a chance to relive happy
prom memories or create brand new ones. "A lot of adults never had an
opportunity to bring who they wanted to bring to prom," MacDonald says.
As for the under-21 prom-goers, the theme is simple: "Bring who you want. Dress how you want. Love as you want."
"We've had tons of parents emailing us about tickets," says MacDonald,
who adds that funds raised at the event support GLSEN's Healing our
Homeroom kits. The kits, like GLSEN, promote "basic tolerance of anybody
that is different from you."
Key findings from the 2009 national GLSEN's School Climate Survey
illustrate that tolerance remains a critical issue for young people.
National data showed that nearly 85 percent of LGBT students had been
verbally abused and 40 percent had been physically harassed because of
their sexual orientation.
As GLSEN plans its hip and popular prom, it also continues an innovative
story project, collecting video oral histories about school experiences
involving sexual orientation and gender identity. A preview of the
documentary is slated to be shown at the prom.
• Get your groove on. Get your tickets today
for the prom, Saturday, May 7, from 7 p.m. until midnight at the Contemporary Arts Center.
• Make a gift
. Donate to Cincinnati's GLSEN online.
• Find out more
. Make a friend of the GSLEN on Facebook to hear what the group is doing next.
By Elissa Yancey
Prom photo courtesy of GLSEN Cincinnati