Rainbow Formal WV

What is the injustice we are solving?
In southern West Virginia, there is a prominent population of LGBTQ+ youth that are growing up without community. According to the Human Rights Campaign, forty-two percent of queer youth live in areas that aren’t accepting of them because of their gender or sexuality. These teens are two times more likely to be physically assaulted than others their age. As many as 92% of LGBTQ+ teens hear negative messages about their identities in their daily lives. These problems cannot be swept under the rug any longer, and the teenage activists of Rainbow Formal WV believe they can help fix them.

To address these concerns, a group of high school students have united to organize a Rainbow Formal for LGBTQ+ teenagers. We feel that by giving kids who may not feel they have a place to be themselves an opportunity to live without fear and socialize with others like them, they will in turn foster that community of acceptance within their own high schools.
Our Compassionate Solution
To solve this injustice of
discrimination and bullying of LGBTQ+ students
we will address
the systemic way in which LGBTQ+ youth are ostracized from normal high school activities like prom
planning a formal dance in which LGBTQ+ high school students can come together and foster a community of acceptance without the influence of bullies
Our Plan
Our Project Goals
Have a successful Rainbow Formal WV with at least 200 students in attendance
Leave at least $1,000 for Rainbow Formal WV 2019 by August 2018
We will increase my / our compassion by...
making this dance accessible to as many LGBTQ+ students as possible and opening the doors to allies of the community. This will allow for many people to attend even if they aren't open about their gender or sexuality with their families.
How will you show courage?
We will show courage by advertising this event on our social media accounts where others can see. We will also sell tickets in our schools and make ourselves known for being proudly LGBTQ+ in a region where it is not accepted.
How will you collaborate with others?
We will collaborate with others by making social media accounts to get the word out about Rainbow Formal WV. We will also have a group chat for members of the planning committee as well as a shared Google Drive folder for all important documents and meeting notes. Finally, we will have weekly meetings discussing the ins and outs of the Formal and our progress.
How will you know you are moving in the right direction?
We will know we are moving in the right direction by setting goals with deadlines. If these goals are reached ahead of schedule, like raising $1,000 in two weeks instead of one month, then we will know we are moving in the right direction. However, if the opposite is true and we don't raise $1,000 in one month, then we will know to reevaluate our goals.
Create a list of key steps you will take
Raise funds
Recruit chaperones
Book a venue
Hire a DJ
Hire a caterer
Buy decorations
This project doesn't have any updates to show.
Adrian B.

March 09, 2018

Hi Megan!

Congratulations! Your project has been selected to receive a Peace First Challenge mini-grant. We will be in touch soon with details about this payment.

The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below:


I love this project! You're addressing a very real injustice in a way that shows deep courage, compassion, and collaboration. I love this idea, and it's revolutionary to have an LGBTQ+ themed prom in a state that hasn't had it before.

I am especially impressed by your courage in doing this work. I love that you're creating this space for youth across the state, and I know it will have a huge impact. Are there ways you're making sure that you stay safe while this is happening? One really thoughtful way to be inclusive was how you made sure to be clear it's also open to allies, so no one will have to come out in order to go to formal, or feel at risk if they aren't open to their families about who they are. This is such an important part of inclusion.

I also love that you're going to be able to have flowers and appetizers as a result of our grant! I love how fabulous and beautiful this formal is going to be. :) This is going to be a joyous and life-saving event. Thank you for this work.

Opportunities to make your project even more incredible:

You have thought of nearly every detail, and your work is very strong right now! I have a few thoughts for you to consider that could make your project even more incredible. One is--I'm curious about how you talked about how students going to prom may be motivated to then help change bullying culture in their own schools. I'd love to think more with you about tangible ways to support prom attendees who are motivated to do this, so that they have what they need to make that happen (and community for it) when they return.

I already see that you're working towards making sure your event is as inclusive as possible! Have you had the chance to think yet about other ways to make sure everyone feels safe/welcome? I'm curious about how to ensure accessibility of the event (http://www.rootedinrights.org/how-to-make-your-social-justice-events-accessible-to-the-disability-community-a-checklist/--especially think about music volume and strobe lights at an event like this) and making sure it's as safe/inclusive as possible for students who have intersecting identities (students of color, immigrants, religious minorities, etc.).

One thing that can help with this work is building a broad coalition--how can you build deep connections with students experiencing all forms of oppression? Are there ways you might be able to even find solutions to these injustices from the people who are causing them? Working across lines of difference to make this project happen can be so powerful, if it's safe to do so.

Really excited to hear more! Keep up the phenomenal work. Congratulations and best of luck with your project! :) Adrian
Eric D.

March 07, 2018

Dear Megan (and team),
Hi! My name is Eric and I work at Peace First. I'm so excited about the project you are describing. Creating safe places where people (especially young people) feel seen, loved, and connected is absolutely important. Thank you for taking this on.
I especially like the focus on prom - taking an important high school tradition that can feel shut off to LGBTQ+ students and claiming it as your own is a powerful statement. Simple yet radical.
I also like the invitation to allies and will be curious how people respond and show up. It is an opportunity for others who might otherwise be silent to raise their voice along side you. Maybe there are community businesses or groups who might show their support with dollars or donated supplies. Influential students can lend their support by attending. There is strength and power in numbers.
One of our Peace First Fellows, Brennan Lewis is doing important work for LGBTQ+ youth in isolated communities.
You can read more about their work here: https://www.peacefirst.org/brennan-lewis
Can't wait to see how this goes! Let us know how we can support.
Fish S.

February 28, 2018

Great to see this project, Megan -- and to learn more about what you've been up to. Love it! You'll be hearing from some other folks soon, too -- let us all know what we can do to help.