This High School Is Brilliantly Shaking up Its Homecoming Stereotypes

October 14th 2015

Laura Donovan

A Wisconsin high school is adopting a gender neutral Homecoming court to show support for gender nonconforming students.

Madison West High School is ditching the traditional King and Queen categories so the students with the most votes will make the court no matter their gender. The two Homecoming court winners won't be called "King" or "Queen" unless they want to go by these titles. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, students streamlined the change to be more inclusive of those who don't fully identify with a gender or don't identify with a gender at all.

Madison West High School in Wisconsin

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“I think this gets us closer on a whole variety of fronts to making each and every student in our building feel like a valued, recognized member of our community,” Principal Beth Thompson told the publication. 

It all started last spring, when nearly 1,000 students and staff members signed a petition claiming the change would “create a safer and more inclusive environment for all students.”

The hope now is that the high school can do the same for prom and the mid-winter dance. The process is lengthy and extensive, but Thompson recognizes that this is an "experiment to think more progressively and inclusively."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the recent suicide of student Skylar Lee contributed to the passing of this initiative.

“He worked so hard on this issue,” Madison West High School English teacher Teri LeSage told the newspaper. “I think this has the potential to change the city and the state. He’s left quite a legacy.”

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This isn't the only tragedy for the trans community at Madison West High School. Two years ago, trans student Mindy Fabian committed suicide.

In recent years, many high schools have made news for electing trans students as Homecoming King and Queen. During the spring, James C. Enochs High School in Modesto, California gave trans sophomore Isaac Salazar the title of Homecoming Princess. Last year, gay commentary website Advocate posted a roundup of 11 transgender Homecoming Kings and Queens and some of these winners were from traditionally conservative cities, including Colorado Springs, and states such as Georgia and Texas.

"[I'm] humbled and honored and shocked," Texas trans teenager Mel Gonzalez, who became Homecoming King at Stephen F. Austin High School in 2014, said in an interview for a documentary. "I was treated like any other male candidate and experienced no backlash."

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