By Ingus Stegis
As early as 2013, LGBTQ+ high schoolers nationwide have run for homecoming and prom court positions, and in several instances, won their elections. However, these victories often resulted in controversy, escalating to bullying and harassment in extreme cases.
At Kaiser, this year’s homecoming court included sophomore Neil Frankel, who identifies as a transgender male. While Frankel had come out as transgender to his friends, the rest of the class was not aware when they nominated him as Homecoming Princess. Frankel voiced his discomfort with wearing a dress, so the sophomore leadership class began to make modifications to the sophomore court’s attire as well as the dance choreography. “Me personally, I am just not comfortable in a dress, it gives me a little more gender dysphoria when I’m wearing it.” said Frankel.
The potential controversy over these changes led to consulting with higher-ups and administration, according to Bradley Bogard, this year’s homecoming court advisor. Fortunately, homecoming went off without a hitch. “[Homecoming was a] positive experience, [I was] really surprised by it… after the game, everyone was coming up to me saying how great I did, Frankel said.
In response to these events, a committee was created to plan the future of homecoming and prom courts at Kaiser. Organized by student body leadership, the committee will recommend revisions that need to be made to the courts for our changing times. “I really think that…with this year’s homecoming, we can’t just ignore how our traditional courts don’t accommodate everyone,” said student body president Sydney Miyasato.
Kaiser’s non-gender specific court committee last met on Nov. 28 to discuss homecoming procedure, including alterations to the nominations process and court attire. For now, the committee has decided recommendations like self nomination in pairs, allowing nominees to choose their title, and removing gender-specific elements from the dances. “It is a tradition, but we just want to make it a more inclusive tradition,” said Frankel, who is also a member of the committee.
Opening up the courts to the LGBTQ+ community is the start of Kaiser’s reform into a fully inclusive school. “I think it’s the first couple of steps,” Frankel said. “But there’s definitely more that needs to be said.” For example, Frankel recommends that teachers at Kaiser become more aware of preferred pronouns and names.