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It’s time to update prom traditions
Changing tradition opens the door for LGBTQ+ students
March 24, 2023
We’ve all seen a teen movie with a prom scene. The cheerleading captain and the star quarterback’s names are announced, tears well up, confetti falls, crowns are placed delicately on their perfectly-coiffed hairstyles, and the couple engages in a slow, romantic dance.
While it can make for heartwarming cinema, this dream cannot be a reality for some high school populations, and it is time to challenge the status quo.
Coming from senior Yamileth Ponce, an LGBTQ+ student changing the prom court to a royal court would make her feel more comfortable.
Ponce added that for her and her girlfriend, having a royal court would make them “very happy, comfortable, and included” as well as any other LGBTQ+ students at HCP, especially since we are starting to see a lot of girlxgirl couples, boyxboy couples.”
Prom is something that dates to the 1920s and has had the tradition of a “king” and “queen” since the 1950s. Tradition states that the prom will have a theme and students dress up in formal clothing.
The tradition has been a sort of rite of passage for juniors and seniors.
As a reporter, I wanted to see what the prom committee, students and teachers around the school thought about the idea of having a royal court rather than voting for a traditional king and queen.
What is a royal court?
A royal court would include more representation in the student body and would allow for voting any two people to win, rather than having the traditional boy and girl win. It would be more open for students who identify otherwise to participate. Also, students who have same-sex relationships would be able to have the opportunity run and win.
“I think it’s okay to stray from tradition and do something new,” said junior prom committee president Zameera Williams.
Prom at HCP:
Not to be dramatic but prom is especially important to everyone. Prom is one of only two school dances that we will be having this year. Students cannot wait to attend.
Why should HCP take part in a royal court?
Williams said that HCP should be able to acknowledge LGBTQ+ students.
“I think that having a king and queen is outdated,” Williams said.
Prom is more than just picking a king or a queen, so why not make it inclusive for everyone? Students are always looking for ways to be represented and changing this prom tradition is one way to go.
“I think it’s different to change things that are just so set in the ways of gender norms, I think it’s definitely a first step, baby steps,” said English II teacher Kat Leenders, who identifies as non-binary.
Leenders said that although they only know sophomores, there are a couple of students who are non-binary and gender nonconforming. They think that even if it is a small group of people represented, those students would benefit from this change.
“It opens the door for inclusivity.”
— Kat Leenders
“I am open to it, just because representation matters and making sure that those students are seen and also that they aren’t feeling like they don’t fit into any of those categories so I’ll never be eligible for those rolls,” said QSA sponsor Emma Smreker.
The Marionette conducted a poll on its Instagram account, which indicated that most of the student body would be open to this idea.
“Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people.”
“Tradition is important because it makes people feel like they are part of a community, but if tradition makes people feel like they are not part of a community then we really have to take a step back and look at it,” said assistant principal and prom committee sponsor Rachael Dowell.
Although Dowell said she has many questions about how this would work, she is a fan of thinking creatively. She said that she wants the school to feel as comfortable and safe as possible.
“If people feel like they aren’t represented, it makes them feel uncomfortable, if we can do a better job of that then I am definitely going to support it,” Dowell added.
Smreker suggested that traditions can’t start unless we decide to make new ones, and that having a royal court would be one way to move HCP in a way that is more inclusive and respectful to student’s identities.
“It is worth changing tradition because everything in life is changing. Everything changes, so it is worth it,” Ponce said.
How would this work?
Williams and junior Emma Attig, secretary of the prom committee, brought up that everything would need to be gender neutral, the crowns, the sashes and even the ballot.
The ballot would need to have every nominee’s name and students at the prom would just vote for two students, even if they are of the same gender or non-binary.
Dowell said she personally does not care who the winners are, as long as the voting process is smooth. However, making this change would include educating the student body about the changes.
Smreker said that one threat would be students not taking it the right way.
“It’s one of those you can’t please everyone situations,” she said. “But if it with the intention to include everyone, going into the direction of including more people is better than going into the direction of excluding people.”
Leenders made it known that the administration would need to sit down and make a post about this, explaining briefly what a royal court is and any questions such as, “Why the sudden change? Why are we doing this?”
“Communication is key. I don’t think it would be inherited as a negative thing, but some people just don’t understand, and that’s not a bad thing, it’s just something that they need to be educated on,” Leenders said.