Held the evening of May 17, Queer Prom was described as “an absolute blast” by organizers and was hosted at Calvary United Methodist Church, a supportive and inclusive church. Approximately 60 youth turned out for the event, chatting it up and breaking it down. Students from a variety of schools attended, including Southern Durham High, North Carolina School of Science and Math, Sanderson High and Durham School of the Arts.
“The event was a huge success and we hope it will be even more successful next year. Oh yeah, and the music was pretty hot too,” said iNSIDEoUT adult advisor Amy Glaser.
Music was provided by DJ L in Japanese and PFLAG Triangle offered financial support for the event.
On May 21, iNSIDEoUT gathered a few students from the Triangle area, as well as several other concerned citizens, and went to talk with state representatives and senators about an anti-bullying bill that includes the categories of “perceived or actual sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The School Violence Prevention Act (HB 1366), introduced last year, is a bill meant to reinforce bullying policies already in place across North Carolina by including a list of categories that are at high risk for bullying, including race, religion, ethnic background, body type, physical ability, and sexual orientation and gender identity.
The House passed the bill at the end of their legislative session in May 2007. The Senate, however, stripped the bill of the enumerated categories, leaving it less able to protect students and enable teachers to protect students. In this year’s legislative short session, the House will have to choose whether to accept or reject the watered-down bill.
Among the state legislators visited by the youth were Reps. Paul Stam (R-Wake), Angela Bryant (D-Halifax, Nash), Grier Martin (D-Wake), Cary Allred (R-Alamance), Paul Luebke (D-Durham), Alice Bordsen (D-Alamance), and HB 1366 primary sponsor Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland), as well as Sens. Vernon Malone (D-Wake) and Neal Hunt (R-Wake).
“[The legislators] were, for the most part, in agreement with our position or willing to listen to what we had to say,” Glaser said. “We are very hopeful that, with the hard work of the people we spoke to, the original version of this bill will pass and LGBTQ students across North Carolina will have increased protection from bullying and harassment.”
On June 7, iNSIDEoUT will hold its third annual banquet for youth and Gaiety community event. The banquet is open to youth only. Reservations for the banquet and Gaiety can be made online at www.insideout180.org/
The group is also taking applications via their website for a youth wilderness adventure trip, Outside the Lines, to be held in the montains of North Carolina Aug. 3-10. The trip is open to youth ages 13-19 and only requires a nominal deposit.
— Amy Glaser contributed to this report.