Ushering in a new tradition: Leadership changes traditionally gendered Homecoming Court

The+new+homecoming+sash.+Photo+by+Jessica+Xing+

The new homecoming sash. Photo by Jessica Xing

Jessica Xing

Story by Sneha Gaur and Jessica Xing 

On Sept. 14, students poured into room A208, situating themselves next to their friends,  immediately breaking out into friendly chatter as they waited for Monta Vista Gender and Sexuality Alliance’s first meeting to start. Among the crowd were Assistant Principal Mike White and representatives from Leadership, all with one question on their minds: What can be done to make Homecoming Court more inclusive of all genders?

In previous years, Homecoming Court has undergone numerous changes, such as the addition of underclassmen princes and princesses and the removal and reinstatement of the homecoming king. However, Monta Vista’s leadership — for the first time — has questioned the traditional gender roles established in the typical homecoming procedure.

“With what’s going on in the world regarding gender identity, we asked the question in Leadership, ‘If we’re an all inclusive program, is every student able to participate on campus knowing that we have students that don’t identify male or female in this program?’” White said, “Would there be a way so we could include everybody?”

Students get ready for homecoming. Photo by Jessica Xing

Students get ready for homecoming. Photo by Jessica Xing

By using terms such as princess, prince, king and queen, students assign male and female roles to the nominees — excluding those who don’t identify with either category, forcing them to conform to a category that doesn’t match their identity.

“Homecoming court has changed before … For [the senior’s] history at Monta Vista, this is the way it has been. [For] the freshmen, this will be the norm for them in a year.” White said.

Leadership was originally divided on the issues of changing the homecoming court tradition, but after getting input from the GSA and members of the non-binary community, they decided to eliminate the male and female categories and instead compiled all the students, regardless of gender, into one list. Each freshman, sophomore and junior then gets ten votes. From there, the list was narrowed down to the top ten candidates from each class, where voting narrowed it down to the top two nominees of each class who will then be part of homecoming court.

Each senior, on the other hand, got twenty votes, narrowing the class down to the top twenty. In the second round of voting, the entire school voted to determine the top ten or twelve of the senior class. The two seniors with the most votes were crowned homecoming royalty, regardless of their genders.

Along with this change, students will now be escorted by a teacher of their choice, rather than pairing up with another member of the homecoming court. According to White, this will allow the staff to be more involved in homecoming — a long time goal for Leadership —  but will not take away from the student presented.

The new homecoming sash. Photo by Jessica Xing

As with any new change, there are those who oppose and support it. Junior Marcus Plutowski doesn’t believe that Leadership’s solution is very effective, or even necessary, especially since in his opinion, the change creates more problems.

“Now that we’re no longer segregating by gender one gender or the other might win out in terms of who gets to go up,” Plutowski said. “I think that would be a problem if the only people who were being represented were males or females.”

Because he views gender as a social construct, or a false category created by society, Plutowski doesn’t believe the alteration is necessary. Instead, he suggests that nominees be divided by their biological sex, or sex assigned at birth, rather than identity.

However, senior Sierra Rodrigues, co-president of GSA, is glad that Leadership wants to be more inclusive of everyone.To her, it shows that the school is willing to adapt to the bigger discussion of gender as a whole.

“They are making an approach,” Rodrigues said. “They’re trying to make people feel included before they feel excluded.”

As co-president, Sierra and GSA have been trying to make the school more inclusive for a while now. She felt that the changes were a step in the right direction, and predicts that they will help the Monta Vista community realize that gender constructs aren’t as important as we make them to be.

“It made me view the process in a better light — it’s no longer about ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’,” Rodrigues said. “They are not scared to break tradition if it means it makes people feel more comfortable in the environment.” Rodrigues said .

By removing gender-specific terms like “king”, “queen”, “prince” and “princesses”,  MVHS shows an understanding of the existence of certain things that restrict complete inclusion and that the teachers want to make an effort to make the school a more accepting place for students to be in.

“By voting for people instead of specifically for males and females,” Rodrigues said, “[students] will begin to see others as more than their gender.”