Rainbow Ball celebrates diversity

Alexandra Andratis, Ethan Brame, and Kiara Barrow, Delhi District Secondary School students, attended the Rainbow Ball on May 2. The ball was planned by the school's Gay-Straight Alliance club and was attended by students from all of Grand Erie District School Board's high schools. (ASHLEY TAYLOR/SIMCOE REFORMER)

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Students were able to express themselves and celebrate diversity at last week’s Rainbow Ball.

The fifth annual dance welcomed 100 students from across Grand Erie District School Board high schools into the gymnasium of Delhi District Secondary School last Thursday night.

“This ball offers a celebratory and safe dance for all of our LGBTQ youth and their allies amongst the 13 (high) schools of Grand Erie District School Board,’ said DDSS teacher Colleen Bator. “Students who happen to be in that community can dance with who they want to dance with, dress how they want to dress, and just be themselves.”

Bator started the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club nine years ago with the help of a student.

On Thursday night, students were greeted at the door of the Disney-themed dance with pride stickers, Mickey Mouse ears, a photo booth, and pronoun stickers to ensure people identified them correctly.

“The main goal is to provide an opportunity for all students to come to an event that celebrates a diverse student population. It’s a space to have fun in a safe environment,” said Delhi principal Griffin Cobb.

“The group has done a great job putting everything together for the event tonight.”

Kiara Barrow, Grade 10 DDSS student, helped with planning the event.

“People are given a chance to be themselves fully, whether in the LGBT community or not. It’s about being yourself and celebrating those differences,” said Barrow. “It’s a place for people that don’t feel comfortable at regular dances, if you can even call them that.”

Alexandra Andratis, a Grade 12 Delhi student, helped with decorations and with anything else she could.

“It’s a really accepting dance, and a really accepting space to really express who you are,” said Andratis.

The event is usually held at a different GEDSB high school each year.

Grand Erie’s first Rainbow Ball took place at Simcoe Composite School in 2015. It was organized by the school’s GSA. In 2016, the event moved to Haldimand County, hosted by McKinnon Park Secondary School for two years. Last spring, Brantford Collegiate Institute and Vocational School hosted the fourth, and largest, event.

Brantford Collegiate Institute asked Delhi if they would be willing to host the ball this year and organizers jumped at the opportunity. Next year’s ball with be hosted by Paris District High School.

Holy Trinity Catholic High School students were also invited because their school does not have a GSA to plan such events.