FHN Should Move Away From Gendered Dances [Editorial]


Credit to Maya H

A representation of societal expectations of gender on students.

And your 2021 Homecoming King and Queen are…

The last ones in Francis Howell North history. Gender and tradition in school events have gone hand in hand for decades. The first vote for dance royalty has always been in the form of nominating different boys and girls across the grades. Thinking of everything in the binary in that manner pushes North backward. This move towards school functions becoming less gendered should be encouraged in all aspects of what we do at FHN. By doing so we can promote less heteronormativity, more comfort, and more opportunity.

Heteronormativity. It’s not a word you’ll hear often, but one that deserves recognition. The definition of it can be simplified to the fact that most often when we think of relationships we think of one boy and one girl. That in and of itself is problematic. The spectrum of sexuality continues to expand, and modeling that one way or another reduces the ideas of heteronormativity.

As a school FHN should be promoting diversity. Each and every student has a story, the North Star and all of our media work to share those stories. The more we transition away from a focus on this idea of there only being one kind of relationship, one fairy tale ending of king and queen, the more we represent those who often don’t have a voice.

By providing more representation, our school creates comfort. The California Healthy Kids Survey this last year found that fewer than half of LGBT students, of 800,000 surveyed, felt safe in their schools. While yes, taken from a small part of the US, the results can be extrapolated to the larger population. Students who aren’t receiving representation feel less safe.

Small actions can leave a big impact. The more representation that is out there the greater safety people will have. They will feel like their fellow classmates support them and are more willing to talk about their experiences. What feels normal to one student can’t always be expressed. Simple things like holding hands in public are normalized… unless it’s anything but straight.

When we prioritize any one group of people over another we create a divide. Therefore by removing gender in school functions we are opening up an opportunity. An opportunity for diversifying the royalty within each function. Take for example Homecoming. Why was there ever a need to be two boys and two girls? Couldn’t there be three girls and one boy? Or vice versa? Letting the students make more choices allows more people to be on the court who may not have had the opportunity before.

While some students complained that there were mainly male-identifying students on Snowcoming court, that outcome doesn’t represent a problem. Students should be able to choose who they feel represents their classes regardless of their gender identity. It allows for the opposite to happen as well. These courts are meant to be a fun activity, pushing certain requirements takes away some of the fun of getting to see your peers recognized.

That’s not to say that there aren’t times that gender has been purposeful. There are unique problems that are associated with genders. Sexism continues to be rampant in schools and professional settings across the US. Therefore it’s important to acknowledge the adversities that face both men and women. However, that does not mean that events themselves inside our schools need to be gendered somehow.

Our student leaders should continue to update policies on dances, and make it a more supportive environment for all. The benefit of Student Council and Class Delegates being run primarily by students is our chance to make those changes ourselves. They have the opportunity and necessity to not only remove those gendered aspects of courts but also in things such as supporting different relationship types.

This small first step followed by our school’s continued support of more action can better the environment for all students in our dances and hopefully even further. With more progress towards diversity and action throughout our organizations, we can cause even more representation and better the treatment of our students.