November 11, 2010
>School Welcomes Trans Student as Homecoming King
>Niko is an openly trans student at Culver City High School in Culver City, California and was voted his class’ homecoming king. We heard about Niko’s story from his friend and GSA president Carmen, and thought that this sign of respect and camaraderie between a class of students was something worth sharing. According to Carmen, the school staff and student body have been very supportive and accepting, which is refreshing to hear when there have been so many recent stories of intolerance and bias. Carmen has even made a Facebook page in honor of Niko’s win and it currently has over 600 fans.
We spoke to Niko, who is also vice president of his school’s GSA, about his experience and what led him to run for the crown, here’s what he had to say.
Why did you choose to run?
I chose to run because after careful consideration, I was convinced that this was something huge that could change a lot of things. My best friend, Carmen, kept telling me day after day to do it. She would always ask me if I had turned in my application every single day until I did.
Did you have any concerns about running?
I feared being bashed, bullied, put down, beat up, and I thought I’d have to leave school if it got really bad. I was scared everything would go very wrong and people would fight against me running for King because I’m not a biological male.
What types of feelings were you having after you had added your name to the ballot?
I had mixed feelings before I was crowned. I thought about backing out quite a few times. Then my campaign kicked into high gear and I just kept saying, “I got this. This is going to happen”. The day of the crowning I had a mini freak out because I was extremely nervous and I thought I was going to lose.
What happened in the days following your crowning?
After the crowning was great. I was supported to the fullest. I came home from the game and I had like 30 new friend requests, 70 new notifications from people congratulating me, messages from people saying I was inspiring. It was just amazing how much I love I got. Everyone was really cool about it and there was little back lash. I think there was one person (that I know of) the publicly disagreed with me winning, but other than that I didn’t hear about anything else.
Now that you’ve won the crown and made history, what do you plan to do next?
I plan to educate my school, community, and maybe one day the world about trans-gender issues. I feel like the trans-gender part of the spectrum is sort of left out. I want to minimize transphobia just as much as I would homophobia. But my main goal is to just get people to understand the difference between a cross-dresser and a trans-gender.
Without question, this was a positive and rewarding experience for Niko and his classmates, unfortunately, this story is rare and a far many others don’t have such desirable outcomes. While there isn’t one factor that contributed to such a successful and inspiring story, one can’t help but make the connection between an active GSA on campus and the overwhelming support Niko received.
According to GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate Survey:
- Having a Gay-Straight Alliance in school was related to more positive experiences for LGBT students, including: hearing fewer homophobic remarks, less victimization because of sexual orientation and gender expression, less absenteeism because of safety concerns and a greater sense of belonging to the school community.
- The presence of supportive staff contributed to a range of positive indicators including fewer reports of missing school, fewer reports of feeling unsafe, greater academic achievement, higher educational aspirations and a greater sense of school belonging.
- Students attending schools with an anti-bullying policy that included protections based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression heard fewer homophobic remarks, experienced lower levels of victimization related to their sexual orientation, were more likely to report that staff intervened when hearing homophobic remarks and were more likely to report incidents of harassment and assault to school staff than students at schools with a general policy or no policy.