UPDATE: West High School debuts gender-neutral homecoming court

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Updated Friday, October 16, 2015 --- 10:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. -- Twenty students at Madison West High School made history Friday, greeting their peers at the school's first gender-neutral homecoming court.

West High School introduced the top 20 voted students in the entire senior class, regardless of gender. It was a move, some on the court say, makes it even more special to be involved.

West High School introduced the Homecoming Court in a unique way, doing a skit as a duo, no matter the gender.

"I'm so proud of West for how far we've come," homecoming court student, Nanceny Fanny, said.

Madison West is one of the first high schools in the state to make the change.

"It really adds an element to gender neutrality and really opens doors for other kids that are not comfortable with a specific gender," homecoming court student, Magnus Arney, said.

A small gesture, that had a big outcome.

"I will never forget this moment," Fanny said.

"This is a big success. The kids had fun they knew that this was a special new way to create traditions and I think we came up with some fun ways to celebrate our school spirit," Principal, Beth Thompson, said.

The top two royals were decided, with none other than, a dance off.
Capturing the spirit, rather than a title.

"It simply allowed those who felt left out before, to feel like they're welcome and a valued member of the community," Thompson said.

"Really in high school it's a time to find yourself and find who you are and I believe, if everyone feels like they're welcome, and they're excited and they're like 'Oh I could win homecoming court, I could be on court.' I feel like everyone would feel more welcomed and have a better high school experience," Fanny said.

According to a 2012 survey about 2% of all Dane County high school students identified themselves as transgender.

Posted Thursday, October 8, 2015 -- 10:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. --Making homecoming history. Madison West High School is going to hold a gender-neutral homecoming court.

It's a trend that's popping up across the country. Some local students call it a small change that makes a world of difference.

"King and Queen is confining to a lot of people regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or anything I mean, right? I wouldn't want to be called Queen myself" West High Dean of Students, Ellen Pryor, said.

Using that mindset, West High School is starting a new tradition this year, by gender neutralizing the homecoming court.

"It won't be separated by male, female. It'll simply be the top 20 students, in the senior class, that their classmates thought represented who we were as as a school," Principal Beth Thompson, said.

The idea emerged last year by the school's Gay Straight Alliance group and it quickly sprung.

"We started a petition which got nearly 1,000 signatures," West High Junior, Arwen Sadler, said.

After much discussion the school administration jumped on board.

"It was interesting to watch the way it evolved in our school," Thompson added.

A change sparked by students has ignited a community.

"For a small subset of students it's a really powerful change and validates in a way their existence," West High Senior, Kate Scholz, said.

"I am non binary so to me this is really affirming and validating to me," Sadler added.

"This is really showing our community, we have some really creative and powerful leaders coming up in our world, so get ready," Thompson said.

The court will be announced on Friday. The homecoming game and dance will be next week.