After two female students were voted homecoming king and queen at one New Jersey high school, the administration responded by reopening the ballot to add two more male kings — which had prompted fierce protest from students.
Zoe Nelson and Jyckell Perez, both 17, were named homecoming king and queen, respectively, at Passaic County Technical Institute after winning the contest through the votes of fellow students.
But rather than letting the two teen girls hold the titles together, the administration at Passaic County Technical Institute expanded voting to elect two more male students as kings.
The judgement call doesn’t appear to reflect the needs of the students, who overwhelmingly opposed it.
On Monday, about a thousand of them particpated in a sit-in in protest, and the principal has since apologized, insisting that the intent was not to slight the female homecoming king.
After two female students were voted homecoming king and queen at one New Jersey high school, the administration responded by reopening the ballot to add two more male kings
About 1,000 students gathered in protest on Monday, calling out the administration for the rule change
Nelson had purposefully run for homecoming king, not queen, to break barriers — and she was thrilled when she won.
‘I had been going through a lot of, like, online bullying and harassment,’ she told ABC7. ‘So it was really hard for me. But when I won, I kind of felt like it all went away, it was all worth it.’
But after Nelson and Perez won the top votes for king and queen, they say, the school held two additional elections.
In the subsequent voting, two male students were named kings, but no more queens were added.
The final homecoming court included Perez as queen, and Nelson and two male students as three kings.
‘When I asked [the administration], “Why am I the only queen,” they told me, “Oh, you’re special,”‘ Perez told NorthJersey.com.
Zoe Nelson and Jyckell Perez, both 17, were named homecoming king and queen, respectively, at Passaic County Technical Institute
Nelson ran a campaign on breaking barriers, which she says the school co-opted to justify expanding the homecoming court
Both Nelson and Perez say they think the administration introduced the two extra elections for the benefit of students uncomfortable with a female homecoming king.
‘Zoe’s campaign slogan was breaking barriers, and [the administration] said in the spirit of breaking barriers and being more inclusive, we’ve decided to add additional kings to the court,’ her mother, Christy Hansen-Grossman, said.
However, the decision seems to have riled a lot of students up.
Nelson and Perez weren’t friends before the election, but when the rule change was announced, they joined up to plan a protest.
Word spread online though Instagram and Snapchat, culminating in yesterday’s demonstration in the school’s lobby, where about 1,000 students showed up to protest.
‘I feel horrible, not just for Zoe, for everyone that feels slighted,’ the principal said. ‘That was not the intention of our decision. We wanted to include more students that were on the ballot for homecoming court’
Nelson didn’t attend the event to receive her crown, but Perez and the two male kings did
Principal Antonio Garcia apologized on behalf of the administration.
‘I feel horrible, not just for Zoe, for everyone that feels slighted,’ he said. ‘That was not the intention of our decision. We wanted to include more students that were on the ballot for homecoming court. For that I’m sorry, and I apologize.’
He also told the students he was proud of them for organizing the sit-in, and invited Nelson and Perez to address the next school board meeting.
But Nelson said that while she is ‘definitely appreciative of the apology, it’s not enough: ‘I’ve heard ‘sorry’ so many times.’
Ultimatley, she decided not to attend the homecoming event at all.
Perez, the lone queen, did attend, saying she wanted to be ‘a voice’ for Nelson and her supporters.
‘I still wanted to walk to make sure there was some representation of what we had done,’ she said.