Homecoming is a way to herald in the start of a new school year, celebrated annually by North Penn with an assembly, pep rally, tailgate, football game, and the nomination, selection, and crowning of homecoming court. While all of these events are great for school spirit, I can’t help but feel disheartened by one in particular: homecoming court.
The court is a very rigid system at first glance; there’s no real question about homecoming is going to work each year. That’s true until a transgender or gender non-conforming participant makes it past nomination and is officially on the court. The system that was once tried and true is now shaken in a 21st century way.
North Penn has handled these cases on an individual basis, often letting students select which title they want to run for or even letting students pick their own titles. While this is reliable when needed, there might be a more permanent solution: changing the titles for homecoming court completely.
A modern problem requires a modern solution, so making the change from ‘homecoming king and queen’ to ‘homecoming royalty’ (or another gender neutral term) doesn’t seem too far off.
In talking with Mr. Nicholson about a potential change he said, “If you’re not improving, you’re falling behind” and elaborates that while we’ve come a long way, there’s always room for improvement.
He also reiterated that while he would be in full support of an inclusive renaming of homecoming, the student body would have to push for and bring about the revision, “As student interest changes, student drive changes.”
Overall, though, Mr. Nicholson believes that homecoming, and other such school events, are about the experiences and a unified school community, not a ceremony and feels that North Penn has done a good job of downplaying the relevance of the Court and its election.
Now you’re probably thinking, if we’ve downplayed the ceremony so much, why does it matter if it’s not gender neutral? There’s already a ‘solution’ in place, judging it on an individual basis, so why do we need a new one?
Well, handling things as they come is one way, but why not just make a more permanent solution? Change the title entirely and you can guarantee future homecomings won’t have this problem.
The administrative perspective is simple: “Any changes that are brought to me for any of our events are vetted to make sure they are in the best interest of the students and the school and feasible from a logistical standpoint. Clearly, anything that’s brought to me has to be both legal and not in violation of any school district policies as well.”
So, it’s left up to the student body.
The gendered terms of homecoming aren’t the real problem here, though. Gender neutrality and equality are important facets of society outside of high school and the steps to achieving those things can start here.
Do we have to choose new homecoming titles? Not necessarily, we can find other solutions to the problem. It doesn’t rely solely on one person, we as a student body can decide how to fix this, but like Mr. Nicholson said, we might want to decide before we fall behind.