A gay couple at Chattahoochee High School in Georgia have both been nominated to this year’s prom court, but they won’t be allowed to win together. The school says the prom court must consist of a king and queen, not two kings.
Under the current process, the students nominate three guys and three girls and then vote for a king and queen. In the past, the winners have often been a couple, and the nominees for this year also include another pair of students who are in a relationship. Joel Lerner and Carter Hebert had hoped they would be able to win together as other couples have, but the school arbitrarily rejected the possibility.
In a petition, the students propose a simple solution: Switch the name from “Prom King and Queen” to “Prom Royalty.” Let the two people who earn the most votes win, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. “This means that if the most deserving of the nominees are two girls,” they write, “they would both be allowed to win, instead of historically only allowing one to be crowned royalty.”
The Fulton County School System insists, however, that there is absolutely nothing it can currently do to change the way the prom court is selected:
The Chattahoochee High School administration has met with students requesting to change the process for selecting prom king and queen.
The students were told that because nominations have been made and the process is underway, the school administration is not in a position to make changes at this time. If they would like to change the process moving forward, student leaders are encouraged to present a proposal to the school’s administration and governance board.
If the school “is not in a position to make changes,” then the prom court vote — a totally symbolic tradition — is, arguably, just a runaway train over which the school has no control, which is almost surely not the case.
To their credit, the graduating students are fighting for change even if it doesn’t happen this year. They plan to present the petition to the administration and work with them to make changes for future proms.
School proms and homecoming dances have been a battle ground for LGBTQ students for many years now. In 2012, another Georgia school removed the student body president from his position after he similarly proposed a gender-neutral “Prom Court.” Just this year, two students at a school in Alabama were also disciplined for participating in a same-sex promposal.