Embracing Diversity: Making Proms Inclusive for All

Creating an environment where everyone feels welcome and celebrated.

(Nathan Anderson / Unsplash.com)

Prom season is not just about glitz, glamor, and fancy dresses. It's also about creating inclusive and welcoming environments where every student feels valued, celebrated, and included. Across the United States, schools and organizations are making strides towards hosting inclusive proms that embrace diversity and promote unity among students of all backgrounds.

Proms that include everyone
In Hibbing High School, Minnesota, a significant milestone was achieved as they hosted their first-ever inclusive prom. According to Northern News Now, the event was designed to ensure that students of all abilities, including those with disabilities, could participate fully and enjoy the prom experience. From accessible venues to inclusive activities and accommodations, every effort was made to create a memorable and inclusive night for all attendees. 

“All students are welcome at the regular prom, but it can be overwhelming. The school community wanted to offer this as an opportunity for students who otherwise may not feel comfortable,” Hibbing High teacher Lenora Jensen told Northern News Now. 

Similarly, in North Central Washington, a Unified Prom was organized, bringing together students from different schools and backgrounds to celebrate inclusivity and diversity. NCWLife hailed the event as the highlight of the year for many students, fostering a culture of acceptance and friendship among students who may not have interacted otherwise. Through music, dancing, and shared experiences, the Unified Prom created lasting memories and strengthened bonds within the community. 

“I think it's important to include other kids because people with disabilities are just part of our community and want to feel included,” Special Education Teacher Kara Melton Melton explained to NCWLife, adding, “And so in order to create that culture, we need to take a step forward with our students. We often hear that it's the highlight of the school year for many of our students and just this piece of wanting to have that high school experience of going to a dance feeling included within their community.” 

KJZZ14 reported on a special prom held this year in the Canyons School District, Utah, allowing many people who had never been a part of a prom experience to join in the celebrations. "It's been amazing to see these kids, they bring so much light into the world. We want to give back and bring some light to them. For us to create this experience for the kids, they are already happy people in general, but the fact they can do this with their friends — it means the world to them." Reagan Peterson, one of the prom planners, told KJZZ.  

How to plan an inclusive celebration
According to the Kids Included Together website, planning an inclusive prom involves thoughtful considerations such as accessibility, accommodations, diverse representation in planning committees, and sensitivity to individual needs and preferences. It's about going beyond the traditional norms of prom culture and embracing diversity in all its forms. 

The location of the big dance establishes the tone for inclusivity in several significant ways. A space's ADA compliance should be taken into account while looking for things like wheelchair accessibility and clear, accessible pathways. Participation in the event may also be impacted by the capacity and arrangement of the space.

You will require assistance in order to plan the ideal inclusive prom. The people on your team will play a key role in making the event successful, from locating reliable chaperones to engaging students with disabilities in the planning committee. Seek out those who are certified in CPR or first aid, capable of escorting a wheelchair user to the restroom or throughout the arena as needed and are ready to join in the fun and instruct children in common dances.

In recent years great progress has been made in promoting inclusion and diversity, not just in proms but in all aspects of life. Inclusive prom experiences not only create memorable moments but also contribute to building a more inclusive and compassionate society where everyone can shine and be celebrated for who they are.

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