THE annual Same Sex and Gender Diverse Formal has grown significantly since its humble beginnings five years ago, and organisers hope this year’s event would be the best yet.

The formal, held by national LGBT youth advocacy group Minus18, will continue to act as a safe place for same-sex attracted and gender diverse high school students from around the country.

It also seeks to support young LGBT students and put pressure on schools to make their events more LGBT inclusive.

Minus18’s partnerships manager Tim Christodoulou reflected on how far the formal has come.

“When the formal first started in 2011 it probably had about 100-200 young people come along, so to then have 500 people to come along last year was really amazing for us,” he told the Star Observer.

“This year we are obviously trying to match that or go a little higher.”

Minus18 is currently hosting a crowdfunding campaign to help sponsor some of the tickets for students in the lead-up to the event.

“This year we are hoping to raise about $10,000,” Christodoulou said.

“It goes directly into sponsoring young people’s tickets. If young people can’t afford to go they can submit an application form to receive ticketing and they come for free.”

Minus18 began the event five years ago as a result of schools refusing students to bring same-sex dates to formals.

Christodoulou said it continued to remain relevant, especially with recent news emerging from Queensland of schools refusing same-sex couples to their formals.

“[The event is a] positive response to various negative media attention surrounding a lot of young people who weren’t able to take the partner that they wanted to take to their school formal,” he said.

“One of the main reasons we hold the event is not just to make sure that these young people have a place where they feel safe and included, but also to put pressure on schools across Australia to pick up their game and do all they can do to be as inclusive of LGBT students as possible.”

Students from across Australia attended last year’s formal, from Geelong to Perth.

“The majority are from Melbourne (but) we really have a large representation of regional rural young people from outside Melbourne,” he said.

“Tickets are cheeper then ever so we’re hopefully going to be getting more young people coming along.”

Looking ahead, Christodoulou hinted that Minus18 had bigger things tentatively planned.

“[The formal has] has become a hallmark of of national unity, which is really incredible for us,” he said.

“Longterm plan is that we are able to run this interstate one day, but without giving away too much there is something coming down the pipeline… I won’t give away any more than that but we’ll see.”

Minus 18’s Same Sex and Gender Diverse Formal is on Saturday, April 11 at the St Kilda Town Hall in St Kilda, Melbourne. Full details and tickets: eventbrite.com.au/e/same-sex-gender-diverse-formal-2015-tickets

To sponsor an LGBT student to attend, visit: chuffed.org/project/formal2015

Watch testimonials from last year’s Same Sex and Gender Divers Formal:

© Star Observer 2017 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and intersex (LGBTI) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.