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Crown controversy: Crockett students protest boy’s bid to be homecoming queen

Students at David Crockett High School voted on Friday to determine who would be the candidates for this year’s homecoming queen. And for the first time in known history, the list of potential queens included a male student.
That fact didn’t sit well with at least a dozen Crockett students, who chose to partake in a protest outside the school’s main entrance rather than attend school and cast their ballots in the election that took place during homeroom.
“There is a boy that looks like a girl that goes to school here,” said Sydnee Gilliam, a sophomore participating in the protest. “They are letting him run for homecoming and I don’t agree with it. I don’t believe a boy should take a girl’s place as homecoming queen.”
Senior Akita Cilley also disagreed with the male student, a junior at the school, being allowed to run for homecoming queen. Cilley circulated a petition earlier in the week in an attempt to put an end to males being permitted to take part in the race to be queen.
“We got 150 signatures,” she said. “Many of my other fellow students had a problem with it, too, but were too afraid to say it.”
But not all students were opposed to the male student running in the election.
Elizabeth Buchanan, a freshman at Crockett, is friends with the young man, who she said is openly gay.
“They were all fine with him until he decided to run for homecoming queen,” Buchanan said. “He likes to chill, but people like to make fun of him and it ain’t right. It’s his choice.”
Buchanan’s mother, Geneva Buchanan, came to the school Friday morning to take her daughter home, saying she didn’t agree with what was going on.
“We send our kids to school for an education. We don’t send them here to be judged,” she said. “That child is no different from any other person. They ought to leave him alone. He’s gay. Big deal.”
Administrators with the Washington County School System were at the school all morning to ensure the safety of all students and keep order at the school.
“As a school system, we want to do the right thing and follow all the laws,” said Assistant Director James Murphy. “We want the kids to exercise their rights to peaceably protest, but we could consider this a disruption to the school.”
Following the morning election, school administrators tallied the votes and let the student body know the male student was not elected as a finalist for homecoming queen.
Protesting students were informed of the outcome moments later and were asked to disperse. They were given the choice of going back to class or going home.
“If the children are going to be suspended for anything today, we’ll deal with that on Monday,” Murphy told the protestors and some of their parents, who had been at the school all morning. “Let’s let some peace settle in for now.”
The voting results were a relief to Cilley and her fellow protestors.
“I’m happy with how it went. Our voices were heard,” she said. “I’m going to go home now for the day. I’m not worried about being suspended because I’m proud of what I did.”
On Monday, administrators suspended the protesting students, saying their actions were disruptive to the school day.
According to Murphy, approximately 13 students were given in-school suspensions, however some of those students will serve their suspensions at home because they refused to do so at school.
The students received anywhere from two to five days of suspension based on their involvement in Friday’s protest.
The boy who ran for homecoming queen received no punishment because, Murphy said, he did nothing that warranted discipline.
The boy was, however, absent from school on Monday by his own choice, Murphy said.
School administrators have offered the teen the option to attend another county program, such as the alternative school or Asbury School, instead of Crockett.
“We just want to be sure he is safe,” Murphy said.