MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Many people think Title IX only ensures equal access to the tennis or basketball court, but the 1972 federal civil rights law also applies to areas outside of sports, including the homecoming court.
Shelby County Schools recently reminded the country of that.
In a Sept. 27 photo that quickly went viral, White Station High School senior Brandon Allen could be seen standing in a bronze sequin dress, moments after being crowned “Homecoming Royalty.”
It was met with positive and negative comments online.
“It makes me feel honored my student body voted me homecoming queen,” Allen said. “I was so happy it took my breath away.”
Mary Tucker, an attorney and Shelby County School's new and first full-time Title IX coordinator, helped make it possible.
Tucker had only been on the job a few weeks when White Station’s principal Carrye Holland reached out for guidance concerning homecoming.
She determined, based on the district's non-discrimination policy, it was okay for the school to change the titles of homecoming king and queen to "homecoming royalty."
"This situation definitely fell under a situation where we want to make sure that we're giving equal opportunity to all of our students," said Tucker.
Tucker says a common misconception is that Title IX only applies to ensuring there's no gender discrimination in athletics.
She says the #MeToo movement along with the White Station homecoming shows it involves much more.
"We're just becoming as a society more educated on these issues and so naturally, the more exposure we have the more these sorts of issues will come into our schools," said Tucker. "The way that the law's written, it's very broad in its terms and I think that as society changes the interpretation of the law has come a little broader, so there are more aspects of Title IX that are being explored now."
Tucker says at the end of the day, it’s about ensuring everyone is treated equally, no matter which court they’re on.