It’s time for the cisgender, heteronormative horror of Homecoming to take a hike.
At least, that’s according to Southern Methodist University’s Human Rights Council.
The necessary improvement: a “gender-neutral” version.
On Tuesday, the school newspaper published the HRC’s open letter lamenting the last three homecomings. As it turns out, they were “dominated by Greek organizations with mostly white members.”
The HRC took part in all three, but no more. In fact, per the letter, those in charge of the events had indicated it would institute gender neutrality but then reversed course.
From the complaint:
Phone and email communication between HRC’s Homecoming Captain and [event-overseeing Student Foundation’s] Homecoming Involvement Coordinator on Monday, September 14th confirmed that both the candidate selection and voting processes for Homecoming Royalty would be gender-neutral. It was further made clear that the voting ballot would be consolidated into a single page—rather than separated into a page with “Homecoming Queen” candidates and another page with “Homecoming King” candidates—so that each student would have two votes to cast in total for all candidates.
But that smile got turned upside down:
[D]uring voting for Homecoming Royalty from Monday, October 19th to Friday, October 23rd, HRC noticed that for the second year in a row, SF did not utilize a single voting page. To our surprise, voting was still separated based on gender identity.
That’s “identity,” not sex.
Still, the HRC wants a more evolved election.
In response, it appears the Homecoming Involvement Coordinator stuck to his/her guns — by blaming it on germs:
HRC’s Homecoming Captain communicated disappointment about the ballot to SF’s Homecoming Involvement Coordinator via text on Thursday, October 22nd. In an email to HRC’s Homecoming Captain about this matter on Sunday, October 25th, SF’s Homecoming Chair justified separating voting based on gender with a need to maintain “tradition” in the Homecoming process amid the new challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
HRC’s calling for a change, because the Dallas school’s Statement of Nondiscrimination claims thusly:
“SMU’s commitment to equal opportunity includes nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.”
A gendered homecoming, therefore, is in violation.
So the HRC and co-signing organizations are announcing a boycott of homecoming ’til the college does the following:
- Abolishes all uses of gendered language in the Homecoming process, including the phrases “Homecoming Queen” and “Homecoming King”;
- Enables all participating organizations to nominate up to two candidates for Homecoming Royalty, regardless of sex or gender identity;
- Provides all students the opportunity to cast votes for up to two candidates for Homecoming Royalty on a single ballot page that is not separated by sex or gender identity; and
- Selects winners and runners-up for Homecoming Royalty in a gender-neutral manner.
The way HRC sees it, in the area of human rights, Southern Methodist has a long, long way to go:
SF’s repeated failure to implement a gender-neutral Homecoming Royalty policy demonstrates that there is still a long way to go in making participation fully welcoming and equitable for all individuals and organizations. Considering the responsibility of the Division of Student Affairs to ensure that students grow in “sincere respect and regard for others,” we ask Divisional leaders to advise SF in permanently enacting a Homecoming process that honors stated SMU values and ensures that every Mustang, regardless of identity, can be welcomed home.
So we’ve moved from the outdated notion of sex to the meaningfulness of identity, and now from identity to the meaninglessness of such a thing.
Where do we go next?
How about the meaninglessness of Homecoming? That seems to be the only step left.
Human rights sure have come a long way. Humanity went through slavery, mass murders, world wars, the Holocaust less than a century ago…and now we’re at Homecoming Queen. I’ll call it a First World problem.
Let’s hope all those Methodists get things sorted out.
And they’d better hurry — Tennessee’s leading the pack:
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