UMN homecoming court will use gender-inclusive titles instead of ‘king’ and ‘queen’

More traditionally-gendered “king” and “queen” titles of past years will be replaced with “royals,” the school announced Monday.

A member of the Golden Gopher Spirit Squad during the 2016 Homecoming game at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016.

Daily File Photo

A member of the Golden Gopher Spirit Squad during the 2016 Homecoming game at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016.

Max Chao

The University of Minnesota is ditching its homecoming “King and Queen” titles in favor of gender-neutral “Royalty,” the school announced Monday.

The change is an effort by Student Unions and Activities to be more inclusive for those who don’t conform to traditional gender identities. Homecoming “Royals” can be any combination of gender identities, according to the announcement.

“This was a good chance for us to make it more inclusive so that hopefully anyone is more willing to participate regardless of their gender identity,” said Marissa Suiter, interim SUA program director of events and activities.

The change comes after several nearby schools including the University of Iowa, University of Wisconsin-Stout and Winona State University took similar actions, Suiter said.

Updated terminology may encourage more transgender and non-conforming students to apply, said Stef Wilencheck, director of the University’s Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life.

“Any time barriers are removed like that, hopefully it helps more people see themselves within the (role) and not barriers, and … language can be that barriers at times,” they said.

Applications for next year’s Homecoming royalty opened Monday. Applications are due March 31.

The winners will be selected by a panel by April 22.