We ought to stand behind the North Dakota State University students who initiated, passed around, and signed a petition earlier this month challenging the university’s decision to select a homecoming royalty court that excludes the traditional king-and-queen scenario.
Though The Forum story that ran Oct. 11 mentioning the petition seemed to downplay the issue, for some, it is a big deal. Referring to a Facebook post that announced the two kings for 2023, accompanied by a photo of this year’s royal pair smiling with the Bison “horns up” hand signal, the article said most responses seemed positive. However, there’s indication that some comments were either removed or limited, suggesting controversy.
So why the tapped nerve? Several factors seem to be at play.
Firstly, many in our wider community didn’t seem to know a new method for choosing the homecoming court had been implemented in 2021, and that, in the name of inclusivity, any combination of sexes can now win this honor. For whatever reason, the above-mentioned image garnered attention this year, prompting a public discussion.
In the last three years, two male pairings have been selected twice to represent the NDSU Bison. No one questions the individuals selected or whether they have solid enough characteristics for the role. Rather, a legitimate wonder stands at the core of the controversy: “Where is the queen?” Likewise, if two queens had been selected, the question would be, “Where is the king?”
Who cares? Well, about 174 students, if not more, according to the petition, along with many others, it seems.
Something about this change strikes deeply at what it means to be human. Men and women are each integral to any thriving society, contributing unique gifts and characteristics. Though we share the same intrinsic value, the sexes are not interchangeable. And that is what a same-sex court seems to signify.
While the history of homecoming, and royalty more generally, has changed through the years, many with a strong sense of family being the bedrock of society find the erasure of male-female pairings alarming, even if just in a photograph on a college’s social-media page.
Additionally, if the student body is now voting on a pool of people instead of men and women distinctly, why, for two years, did women not make the cut? Is it even good to encourage men and women to compete against each other? Why not focus on how they complement and build up one another? And why two representatives instead of one—or three?
Highlighting one sex at the exclusion of the other, however diplomatically that came about, seems contrary to the inclusion the university aims to promote.
No human being exists without both a male and female being involved. As Genesis makes clear, “Male and female he made them.” That is the design for human life’s beginnings, and what ought to be celebrated and upheld—even on something as seemingly insignificant as a school homecoming court.
Thanks, students, for remembering what’s important, even if not everyone sees it.
Editor’s note: This column was updated Wednesday evening, Nov. 8 to accurately reflect the number of students who signed the petition.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Oct. 30, 2023.]