TRUTH BOMBS: We just don’t see the moral flaws in gender bending do we? This is an evil that has destroyed many countries in history but we don’t learn from that.
ARTICLE: Breaking with the tradition at many of the nation’s schools, students at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School will adopt a gender-neutral homecoming court this year, moving away from the longtime practice of electing a boy as “king” and a girl as “queen.”
Students in each grade will vote for two classmates from a ballot of finalists, with the top vote-getters crowned at the school’s homecoming football game. It’s a change that means those honored at halftime on Oct. 7 could include two boys, two girls, transgender students or a boy-girl duo.
“It provides an opportunity for all students to be involved in something that was exclusionary,” said Jacob Rains, president of the schoolwide Student Government Association. “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?”
The change at the high-performing school in Montgomery County comes as others across the country have begun to rethink how gender classifications affect students. Many Montgomery high schools changed how they assign graduation robes: Instead of using one color for girls and another for boys, they have all students wear the same color.
Homecoming is another front. Montgomery school officials say B-CC is the first of the county’s 25 high schools to adopt a gender-neutral approach to homecoming court. In recent years, the idea also has taken hold elsewhere.
At Madison West High School in Wisconsin, students from its gay-straight alliance launched a petition urging the change, and more than 1,000 students and staff members signed on, said Beth Thompson, the principal. Thompson said the idea appears to be more common at universities but has worked well at the Wisconsin high school.
“We have a new tradition,” she said.
At Bethesda-Chevy Chase, the change came in a 4 to 1 vote last week among officers of the schoolwide SGA.
“I’m honestly overjoyed,” said Nadia Gaylin, a B-CC senior who said that the top two vote-getters for each class could still end up being traditional boy-girl duos but that just opening the door to other scenarios is a positive step.
“It’s so important for kids to see the school is accepting and that we recognize they exist,” she said. “That is so huge and can honestly change lives.”
Rains said the change came as student leaders sought to be more inclusive. B-CC has an active LGBT club, called Spectrum, and the student newspaper profiled the experiences of a transgender student last year, something that was “an eye-opener” for many, he said.
“It just felt like this was the right time to do this,” Rains said. “We looked closely and decided: ‘Hey, this is a problem with the current system, and we should go and solve it.’ ”
Six years ago, Aiden Rivera Schaeff, a transgender student who began his transition from female to male at B-CC, committed suicide just shy of his 18th birthday. According to his mother, Cathy Schaeff, the teen was bullied at school and elsewhere and had stopped attending classes at the time of his death. Schaeff lauded the homecoming change in an interview Tuesday, saying it’s important to shift the culture at schools “in a systemic way that supports everybody.”
Among B-CC’s student body of more than 2,000, not everyone immediately welcomed the change. Responding to Rains’s post about the decision on Instagram, some students mocked issues of gender identification. Some raised objections.