Renaissance High School junior Jamaria Johnson ran for homecoming prince -- and won.
Traditionally, males run for duke, lord, prince, or king, while females run for dutchess, lady, princess or queen.
Johnson identifies herself as a lesbian, however, and felt that the title of princess, “did not represent” her.
“This is not against the Student Senate rules for homecoming court,” says Senate president Jaylen Bradley.
“Students are allowed to run for whatever position that they would like. Just because it is unprecedented doesn’t mean it is against the rules,” he added.
Before the elections, Johnson said she was “excited to run and happy that the school won’t stop (her).”
While Johnson was able to run without fear of being taken off the ballot, other Michigan high schoolers did not have that fortunate.
In 2010, a transgender senior from Mona Shores High School in Muskegon ran for Homecoming king. Oakleigh Reed received the most votes and would have been crowned King, except the school removed the candidate from running.
“The rules of voting stated that the students were supposed to vote for a boy as king and a girl as queen,” the Mona Shores superintendent Terry Babbitt expressed at the time.
The controversy surrounding this caused the school to do away with the practice of naming a Homecoming king and queen altogether. Instead they elected a Homecoming Court with two Homecoming “finalists.” After just a year of that practice, however, the Mona Shores returned to having king and queen.
The king must be enrolled as a male and the queen must be enrolled as a female.
However, there is some indication that things are changing. Earlier in October, a transgender student from Grand Blanc High School in Grand Blanc, was named Homecoming Prince for the first time in that school's history.
The Michigan State Board of Education released a statement and guidance for Safe and Supportive Learning Environments for LGBTQ students in September. The statement provides guidelines for schools to follow in order to successfully provide support for LGBTQ students.
This statement includes a section for transgender and gender nonconforming students. A gender nonconforming student is a student whose gender expression differs from stereotypical expectations of the biological sex they were assigned at birth. An example of gender nonconforming is a female running for homecoming prince.
This section of the statement specifically states that gender-based programs and practices “can have the unintentional consequence of marginalizing, stigmatizing, and excluding transgender and GNC students.”
Based on the State Board’s statement, by forcing females to run for princess and males to run for prince, transgender and GNC students are being mistreated.
After preliminary voting, Johnson was announced as a finalist for Homecoming Prince, exactly one week before the Homecoming Dance.
“If she wins, she’s prince,” said Jaylen Bradley.
“We don’t discriminate against anyone,” he added.
“You can run for any position in your grade level, and if you win, you don’t have to worry about your title being stripped.”
On Oct. 14 at the Homecoming Dance, Johnson was officially announced as Renaissance's Homecoming prince.