District-wide LGBT 'prom' a first for Surrey
Teacher Heather Kelley says tragedies like Orlando shooting show LGBT acceptance still needed
More than 100 teens are expected to attend the first district-wide school dance for gay, bisexual and transgender students in Surrey on Monday night.
"There's something to be said for having a space that you know is going to explicitly support you and who you are and who you're dating — that's really important," said Heather Kelley, a teacher at Guilford Park Secondary and a sponsor of the school's gay-straight alliance club.
Kelley said student organizers are calling the dance "pride prom," but it's open to any Surrey high school student, in any grade.
She also said the students organizing this dance have received nothing but support and encouragement from the Surrey community.
"It's been a beautiful thing to see all these people come together to help celebrate these youth," Kelley said.
A crowdfunding page for the event had raised more than $800 for the dance, and Kelley said people have also donated decorations.
She said the mass shooting at a gay club in Florida this past weekend only reinforces that there is still a long way to go when it comes to acceptance.
"What happened in Orlando is extremely tragic ... and I think it just really highlights the need for us to have events like this," she said.
"Our dance is really about community-building and friendship and relationship building, and I think the world would be a better place if we all just did that."
With files from Deborah Goble