At a time when equality has never been a more prevalent topic of conversation, headspace Townsville is making local youth feel accepted and welcome with their inaugural Rainbow Formal this month.
The event invites people between the ages of 16-25 who identify as a diverse gender or sexuality to dress up and celebrate who they are in a safe environment.
Rainbow Formal Working Group Member, headspace Townsville’s Carolyn Lucas, said the Rainbow Formal was an important counter to the constant debates in the media and online about equality.
“With any topic or issue, the messages we receive through government policies or via the media has an influence on how society perceives things,” Carolyn said.
“In 2011 there were 6,300 children living in same sex couple families. 11 in 100 Australians identified as diverse sexual orientation, sex, or gender identity; of those, six in 10 experienced verbal homophobic abuse, and 42% hid their sexual orientation at social and community events (Australian Human Rights Commission 2014).
“The more inclusive and representative polices are of the Australian population, the safer it will be for young people to feel comfortable and accepted.”
Townsville’s first Rainbow Formal will build on the success of Melbourne’s recent Rainbow Ball.
“The Rainbow Formal is a celebration for all young people who identify as diverse gender or sexuality. Traditionally, school formals have not recognised same-sex couples or been a safe place for young people to express their preferred gender.
“We feel that it’s really important for any event to be inclusive of how people want to express themselves – the more we can do this, the less stigma and discrimination there will be for people who identify as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, asexual, or queer.”
headspace Townsville is available to assist with general health, mental health, drug and alcohol issues, or employment and education support.
“We provide free confidential health services for young people aged 12-25 – headspace is an inclusive service and does not discriminate regardless of age, race, cultural background, religion, sexual orientation, gender or disability. headspace is about making sure young people in Townsville and surrounding areas have access to the best support, information, and services for their health and wellbeing.”
Catch headspace Townsville’s Rainbow Formal at the Old Courthouse Theatre on 9 September, with tickets available here.
If you need advice or support, headspace Townsville is open 9am – 5pm Monday – Friday, and can also be contacted on 4799 1799.