UW-Stout replaces homecoming court with gender-neutral 'Spirit Award'

The University of Wisconsin-Stout is scrapping a longstanding tradition of honoring a homecoming king and queen in favor of awarding eight students with a gender-neutral “Spirit Award.”

The school announced Thursday that, for the first time in 80 years, it will not crown a king and queen for its October 8 homecoming in order to avoid being held down by the dated gender binary.

[RELATED: Universities urge students to use gender-neutral pronouns]

“The new ‘royalty’ program provides an opportunity to recognize more students who can have a more meaningful role as ambassadors and not be bound by gender restrictions,” said Emily Ascher, campus activities coordinator, in the news release.

She went on to note that all students “have the capacity to strongly and proudly serve as representatives of campus,” saying that “restricting that role to a gender specific pair limits opportunities, both for our students and the program as a whole.”

The school announced its decision just one week before its 125th homecoming anniversary, and will select the eight recipients of the new gender-neutral award next week.

While crowning a gender-neutral homecoming court is not a widespread practice on college campuses, one Maryland high school seems to have paved the way for UW-Stout when it announced Tuesday that it would drop its practice of electing a boy as a king and a girl as a queen.

“It is really not our job, especially with a gender-neutral and transgender population at B-CC, to tell people that boys have to be kings and girls have to be queens,” said Jacob Rains, president of the school’s student government. “Who are we to put people into those categories?”

The Washington Post, however, points out that such practices could result in some problems because nothing would prohibit more boys than girls being elected as homecoming royalty.

Campus Reform reached out to UW-Stout for comment on the matter, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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