Students Elect First Non-Binary Homecoming King
Maria Yesenia Velasquez, Staff Reporter
Elections in schools have always been important to many students. For the homecoming court, all grades are able to elect one female and one male student to represent them. However, for the first time in LEE and ISA’s history, there was someone elected that fit neither of those categories. Carter McManus (12) was elected as Homecoming King, with words like “revolutionary”, “historic”, and “exhilarating” being only a handful of terms used to describe the experience by the student body.
With social advances and more people becoming educated about the LGBTQIA+ community, we have moved closer to an accepting all students as they are. Being Non-Binary simply means that you don’t identify with being either male or female; for many, including McManus, this decision is through a journey of self-discovery.
On September 22, LEE High School’s Student Council announced that the Homecoming Court would be decided by LEE and ISA faculty nominations. At that moment, McManus knew that they wanted to run for Homecoming King. They thought that by at least running and getting their name out there, they would not only help more LGBTQIA+ students feel inclined to expressing themselves outwardly, but potentially make a progressive change to a centuries old tradition.
Once word spread that McManus was running for King, there were many who had varying opinions on the matter. Some thought they were running as a joke, while others thought that by campaigning as the “First Non-Binary Homecoming King,” McManus was using their gender for votes; “Although there were many comments and concerns over my campaign, I didn’t run just for myself, but for all LGBTQIA+ students.” said McManus.
Campaigning is one of the few stages of Homecoming in which the candidates have total control of how they promote themselves. During the weeks leading up to voting stages, McManus campaigned on social media and in person, due to their hard work and consistency, one promotional post of theirs was reshared over 800 times on students’ Instagram Stories. Although the campaign was just for LEE High School and ISA, there were students from other schools and even other districts sharing and supporting McManus.
The week of the election, students were satisfied with the structure that student council provided to ensure that voting was confidential and that students were not pressured to vote in a certain way. Candidates and their supporters were not permitted to campaign or try to otherwise influence votes near the polling area; “The voting process was very efficient and easy, it offered a way to vote without peer pressure,” said Quinn Nibergall (12).
The homecoming football game has always been one of the most populated games of the season. This year’s election had students waiting impatiently for their homecoming King and Queen. The student section at this game in particular was overflowing and when halftime came around the anticipation could be felt throughout the stadium. “Before I went out on the field, I reminded myself that regardless of the results, I was making a difference for all LGBTQIA+ students on campus, and that’s all I cared about.” McManus said.
October 14, 2021, Carter McManus was crowned LEE and ISA’s first ever Non-Binary Homecoming King. When the emcee announced their name the entire stadium from both sides erupted with applause and cheers.
Following their win, teenagers around the region were sharing and posting about McManus’s journey. “Carter winning Homecoming King was truly a monumental achievement for not only trans and queer people at LEE High School, but the entire student body. As a non-binary ISA student and a dancer on the Lee-ettes, I often feel alone as being seen as a ‘guy,’ and Carter winning Homecoming King truly made me feel like there was hope for myself and all other LGBTQIA+ people to succeed in the future,” said Carlos Bernal (10).
The student body of the LEE campus was awestruck by such a groundbreaking event. McManus’s story impacted and opened doors for those who don’t ‘fit’ into modern society.
“For a school with a problematic past, it’s really great to see that LEE is becoming more welcoming and inclusive to all. It truly shows the progress that we’ve made.” Yves Smith (9) said. Students are loving this new change in LEE’s culture, with people both accepting and loving each other. Students can now proudly say they go to a school that they feel welcomed to. “They might be non-binary, but that night, Carter was number one” Logan Lewis (12) said.