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Penn State Homecoming to Replace King and Queen with Gender-Neutral Court

by on April 10, 2018 11:00 AM

Penn State Homecoming announced on Tuesday morning that it will do away with Homecoming King and Queen in favor of a gender-neutral court.

Instead of the traditional award, Homecoming will now crown two “Guide State Forward” award winners, reflecting this year’s Homecoming theme.

Much like in the past, students will nominate rising seniors who they think are worthy of recognition and the Homecoming captains will narrow that pool down to 20, which it will then interview and select 10 people for the student court, without regard to gender or gender identity. Students will then vote on the top-five finalists and a panel of faculty and staff will select the two winners.

The award will go to two individuals, regardless of gender, who exemplify Penn State’s core values of service, leadership and academics, Homecoming 2018 Executive Director Ally Berdan said in a news release.

The change is part of an effort by the student-run Homecoming Committee "to foster more diversity and gender inclusivity," according to a the release.

“We’re striving to open up Homecoming so that all Penn State students can feel like they are welcome and able to participate. Our goal is to identify the best students to represent Penn State without regard to their gender, gender identity or gender expression,” Berdan said. “This change is not only in line with our organization’s desire to be accepting of all students, but also the university’s values of diversity and inclusion, as reflected in the All In initiative.”

Alex Shockley and Cayla Castells, who were crowned in the fall, will be the last Penn State Homecoming King and Queen, respectively. The award recipients will still be announced at the Homecoming football game and the court will still participate in various events during Homecoming week. In addition, this year’s court will also be responsible for planning a University-wide service event.

With this, Penn State will become only the third school in the Big Ten to eliminate the “king” and “queen” titles. Nominations for student court opened on Tuesday and will open again in August for a second period.

Lexi Shimkonis is a news editor for Onward State. The Penn State sophomore is studying civil engineering. She calls Spring City, Pa. her home.
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