BY JOSEPH STURGEON
Before anything else, the annual homecoming dance is a tradition.
Each school year, typically about halfway through the first quarter, when students aren’t discussing grades, teachers or internet memes, they’re discussing the homecoming dance. Anyone listening in on these conversations can expect to hear about the beloved homecoming football game or the homecoming week themes— but one of the most interesting aspects of this year’s homecoming festivities is arguably homecoming court, or rather, who can run for it.
This year, for the first time, the Student Government Association (SGA) is doing away with homecoming court candidates applying as singles. Instead, any pair of students— best friends, same-sex couples and others— can run as a homecoming “duo.” In addition to this, the homecoming court applications allow applicants to run for homecoming “royalty,” rather than simply running for king or queen, allowing for agender, non-binary and transgender students to run for homecoming court without having to detach from their identities.
These two moves were the brainchildren of SGA sponsor Natalie Flaten, who felt that homecoming court should be more inclusive and give a chance for people of all orientations and identities to run for homecoming royalty in a way that is comfortable for them.
“We want everybody to feel included, or that they can participate in things regardless of who they are.”
“Student government, to me, is all about inclusivity,” Flaten said. “That’s what we stand for. We create events for everybody, so in creating events for everybody, we want everybody to feel included, or that they can participate in things regardless of who they are.”
Prior to opening applications, Flaten and SGA had been pondering how to modify homecoming court applications to make them inclusive to everybody.
“To me, the easiest way to not only just make it inclusive but make it enjoyable for anybody to participate was, rather than [having students] run as singles, [have them] run as a duo,” Flaten said. “I don’t like saying couple, because it doesn’t have to be a couple— just a pair of candidates instead of a single [candidate]. You get to choose who you want to run with, and it doesn’t have to be a couple, although it can be.”
When it comes to school dances, LGBT+ youth can often feel alienated from the festivities. Pressure to conform to heteronormative gender roles, whether it’s the date they bring, the clothing they wear or even what royalty to run for can be factors in this. Some students may not be out, which can discourage them from attending school dances, and other students would rather avoid any possible harassment by their peers. In their 2017 National School Climate Survey, GLSEN found that 18% of surveyed LGBT+ students couldn’t bring a same-sex date to school dances, and 19% of those surveyed were prevented from wearing clothing “deemed inappropriate based on their gender.”
“It not only includes same-sex couples, but also includes best friends, which is one of the most special relationships of all.”
“In high school, everyone is trying to fit in and find themselves, and people who identify as non-binary, trans, agender, et cetera, sometimes have to work harder at that,” junior and HOPE Club member Matthew Milotskis said. “Those in the LGBT+ community don’t want to be [considered] higher than cis [or] straight people, we just want to be normalized so that we can participate in events and not feel like we’re always the odd one out.”
Last school year, Aliceon Clemmensen, who is now a freshman at Florida Gulf Coast University, ran for homecoming court as homecoming “royalty,” despite it not being an option on the form yet. They didn’t win but, in the end, they emboldened SGA to make homecoming court more inclusive as a whole.
CCHS students seem receptive to the changes made by SGA on the homecoming court applications, and the move is seemingly appreciated by students who are members of the LGBT+ community as well.
“I think the new idea is phenomenal,” junior Kaela Goldstein said. “It not only includes same-sex couples, but also includes best friends, which is one of the most special relationships of all. It is a big step [for us] to move forward with this idea.”
Photo by The Lariat Photography