Madison West High School plans to continue using gender-neutral royalty courts following a successful launch of the groundbreaking approach during the 2015-16 school year.
The school switched to a gender-neutral homecoming court in October, becoming one of only a few in the country to do so and possibly the first in Wisconsin. It then used the same approach for its royalty courts during the school’s mid-winter dance and the spring prom.
“Our students took the lead and embraced the idea of change in order to create an inclusive community where each and every student feels valued,” said Principal Beth Thompson.
With the change, it is no longer a given that a royalty court will have a balanced mix of boys and girls, although that still could occur by happenstance. Rather, the top 20 vote-getters become royalty candidates, regardless of gender. The two winners no longer need to be one boy and one girl.
The change, initiated by students, was intended to make the school more welcoming to those who feel their genders do not fall along strict male and female lines.
“It’s about respect,” said West senior Kingsley-Reine Pissang, who graduated Saturday and served as president of the student council. “This is something West is very proud to claim.”
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Pissang said some people “were kind of bummed” that the titles of “king” and “queen” are no longer always apt. But she said losing the titles is a small price to pay “to make sure everyone feels comfortable.”
Calling the two winners “The Regent Royals” — a reference to the school’s mascot — likely will be the new approach, she said.
That was the case at the spring prom.
The court had 13 students who identify as male and seven who identify as female, Thompson said. The two winners were both male.
“These young men did an awesome job of leading the court with West High spirit and pride,” Thompson said.