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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 30, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 40
Maryland high school adopts gender-neutral homecoming court
Section One
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Maryland high school adopts gender-neutral homecoming court

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Students at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Maryland have adopted a gender-neutral homecoming court, breaking the tradition of electing one boy as 'king' and one girl as 'queen.'

Instead, reported LGBTQ Nation, students in each grade will vote for two individuals from a ballot of finalists and the top two vote-getters will be crowned at halftime on Oct. 7.

'They will be asked if they want to be identified as 'royalty,' a 'king' or a 'queen,' when the winners are announced, which will allow for more inclusiveness while also preserving titles some students may still appreciate,' said B-CC Principal Donna Redmond Jones. Jones is supportive of the change.

'What student leaders are doing is a step to help ensure that all students have a sense of belonging at B-CC,' Jones said.

Jacob Rains, president of the school-wide Student Government Association, which made the change in a 4-1 vote, said, 'It is really not our job, especially with a gender-neutral and Transgender population at B-CC, to tell people that boys have to be kings and girls have to be queens. Who are we to put people into those categories?'

Rains says the new policy provides an opportunity for all students to be involved in something that had been exclusionary.

'It just felt like this was the right time to do this. We looked closely and decided: 'Hey, this is a problem with the current system, and we should go and solve it,' Rains added.

The students and staff at B-CC have experienced heartache over students feeling left out.

Six years ago, former Transgender B-CC student Aiden Rivera Schaeff began his transition from female to male at B-CC. Sadly, Schaeff committed suicide six years ago, shortly before his 18th birthday.

His mother, Cathy Schaeff, says he was bulled at school and stopped attending classes. She spoke out in support of the homecoming change, saying it's important to shift the culture at schools 'in a systemic way that supports everybody.'

The school is the first to make such a change in the county, which has 25 high schools in all. They are not, however, the first school in the nation to change their homecoming court policy.

Madison West High School, in Wisconsin, adopted a gender-neutral homecoming court policy last year. The school's principal, Beth Thompson, reports that it is working well there.

Camern Pinkus is a Transgender senior and a leader of B-CC's Spectrum LGBT club. Pinkus said they registered both surprise and joy over the move.

'I thought it was going to be a few more years before the school did something so gutsy,' they said.

In addition, the school is opening another gender-neutral bathroom.

Over the past few months school bathroom use has become a nationwide issue, with President Obama sending a directive to public schools instructing that Transgender individuals be allowed to use the facilities matching their gender identity.

A case involving a Transgender student from Virginia wishing to use the bathroom matching his gender identity is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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