Homecoming is a time for inclusivity, regardless of gender

Gabriella Pinos/ Staff Writer

When I was growing up, I looked at homecoming with disdain. Movies from my childhood led me to believe that it was exclusive to the “girly-girls” in my class, which I didn’t identify as. They characterized them as superficial teens vying for expensive dresses, a plastic crown and, of course, true love.

Looking back at those movies, I can say they’ve aged poorly.

Homecoming represents much more than what we see on a cliché chick flick, it’s a way for students to celebrate their school spirit. The phrase “I bleed blue and gold” never made much sense to me until I saw the Panther pride present in football games and tailgates.

More importantly, I learned that there is no such thing as a “stereotypical homecoming queen.” Girls must no longer transform into prim and proper princesses to compete for the crown; that perception disappeared along with bootcut jeans and frosted tips. The homecoming court now represents the student body, from their academics to extracurricular activities.

In fact, universities across the United States are striving to eliminate Homecoming stereotypes altogether.

Northern Arizona University, for instance, crowned a female homecoming king and a male homecoming queen in 2012, according to USA Today. Other institutions, such as Arizona State University and Penn State University, have dropped the titles “king” and “queen”completely.

The homecoming court is now referred to as “homecoming royalty” in ASU, according to USA Today, while Penn State’s homecoming committee will use gender-neutral titles starting in 2018.

At FIU, students can still run for king, queen, prince and princess of homecoming court, but eligibility requirements make no mention of gender, according to the 2018 Homecoming Participation Guide.

The switch to gender-neutral titles and lax restrictions on gender are a much-needed change, even if they spit in the face of my childhood entertainment. Students who don’t conform to the gender binary, or even those who feel like they don’t live up to traditional beauty standards, can participate in something that has been limited to the Regina Georges of America.

Implicitly, however, that stereotype is still being fueled, whether through lack of involvement on campus or through society itself. Social media has only made the problem worse, as we compare ourselves to our peers and try to reach unreasonable ideals of beauty.

By leaning away from clichés and making homecoming an inclusive space for all genders and personalities, colleges like FIU can eliminate a cycle that’s so ingrained in our culture.

It also gives students the opportunity to take part in school activities without having to shop for an expensive gown. Homecoming court is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the week-long festivities at FIU, from Panthermonium to Panthers Got Talent to BBC’s Diversity Day; so that Panthers can celebrate school spirit their own way.

Regardless of what society may shove down our throats, we must continue to embrace what makes us different, especially in our universities. After all, homecoming shouldn’t just be for the Greeks or the aspiring kings and queens, but for everyone on every campus. If only Hollywood could get with the program.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Photo by Pixel Fantasy on Flickr


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