Why This High School's Homecoming Won't Have Kings & Queens

Photographed by Eva K. Salvi.
Students at Madison West High School in Madison, WI, had a great idea for their next Homecoming Court: Do away with kings and queens, and make the whole thing gender-neutral.

The decision makes West one of the few schools in the nation to have a nongendered system for picking the winners of the annual popularity contest, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Instead of students voting on two slates, one of boys and one of girls, the top 20 will make up the court regardless of gender.

Not only did the students who pushed for the change find examples of a handful of colleges and high schools they wanted to emulate, they explicitly wanted to make trans students feel accepted and appreciated. Making the change, they wrote in their petition, means the school “can be the progressive trailblazer it was meant to be.”

West High is the largest high school in Madison, with an enrollment of 2,000, and the students there have easy access to the city's progressive and civic-minded traditions. Almost half the student body signed petitions asking for the change, which were delivered to school principal Beth Thompson last spring.

Tragically, one of the students who had led the movement to change the school's policies was not able to see the fruits of his labor. Skylar Marcus Lee, a junior who was a trans youth leader in Madison and at West High, died from suicide on September 28.

The Homecoming Dance will be held on October 17.
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