Instead of crowning a homecoming king and queen this year, the University of Minnesota will have a court and two reigning “royals.”
The decision follows a national trend of high schools and colleges – including the University of Iowa and the University of Wisconsin – foregoing gendered titles for the honors.
The University of Minnesota has long allowed students to compete for whatever title they identified with. No one had a problem with the king and queen designations.
But this year, there were some complaints about a separate homecoming activity for children. Kids ages 2-12 can enter a coloring contest for the chance to take part in the homecoming parade, and historically there’s always been a boy winner and a girl winner. But there were some children who didn’t fit either category and felt they couldn’t take part, says Marissa Suiter, U student activities adviser.
“I think it’s one of those things that had started a while back and hadn’t changed,” Suiter says.
So the U decided to toss the gender categories for the coloring contest and do the same with its homecoming court.
Devin Graf, one of four students on the homecoming planning board, says the response from campus has been overwhelmingly supportive. There’s been no curmudgeonly hate mail yet.
“I know my fellow classmates are very excited,” she says. “We’re interested to see if our candidate pool becomes more representative of our diverse student body. I’ve had multiple people from my hometown send me messages like, ‘Hey, we saw you on the news!’ just to see this change being made, especially at such a huge university.”