Last week, the British Prime Minister proposed a change in succession laws that would allow first born women to become queen, no matter how many little brothers their royal parents happen to spit out afterwards. Yesterday we were met with more great news, this time from the land of American high school royalty. Last weekend Patrick Henry High School of San Diego, California crowned Rebeca Arellano the very first female homecoming king in the nation, and gave the title of queen to Rebeca’s girlfriend Haileigh (and no, the seasonal finale of last season’s Glee doesn’t count, people). Typical teenage screams and wild applause followed the announcement, along with words of support from classmates. One student pointed to an increase in same-sex couples showing affection at school the following week, in her mind a result of Haileigh and Rebeca’s win.
Time for celebration across the nation, right? Yay, it’s ok to be an out lesbian couple in high school! You can take part in popularity contests too, and even win sometimes!
Oh, but not so fast…
Though the feminist blog Jezebel reports that “for the most part, their classmates have been very supportive, with only a few haters chiming in,” news stations across the nation would like to remind you that everything is not so hunky dory. Fox 5 reports that though the election was “supposed to be a sign of tolerance and openness,” it has now “become a sign of hate.” In fact news reports all over the country are doing what they do best: dramatizing the incident in the name of their ratings (complete with doom-tone and emphasis-hands).
The people involved in this story are trying their best not to let the event be used to whip people into a state of homophobic fear. The school district’s superintendent made a statement earlier in the week expressing his disappointment in the messages the school had received from “adult bullies,” but decided not to talk about the specific nature or number of negative messages they had received. Haileigh and Rebeca have asked news outlets not to show pictures of their crowning, in order to quash the growing drama of their story.
It’s really too bad that what should have been cause for celebration has become another example of the news media promulgating the usual culture of fear. By focusing on the few threats the school district received , whether they mean to or not, the media is saying to the general public “these people are afraid…you should be too.” As consumers of tv news, are we going to send the message that we’re not going to take part in this culture of fear by turning the television off? Or are we going to take part in the culture and give them cause to conduct business as usual?
As a side note, maybe someday royalty of all varieties won’t be so gendered? (Ruler Elizabeth?). We can always hope, can’t we?