Lesbian homecoming king engenders outrage

/ Source: The Associated Press

Hood College is reviewing its homecoming rules after a lesbian was crowned king, a college official says.

But Jennifer Jones, the 21-year-old senior who beat out three men for the honor, says her victory last month was a plus for the private liberal-arts college.

"It is cool that Hood allows people to be themselves," Jones, of Newark, Del., told The Frederick News-Post. "If people didn't want me to be king, they wouldn't have nominated me and voted for me."

Waves of discontent are still rippling through the 2,100-student campus in western Maryland more than two weeks after Jones was crowned at the Feb. 18 homecoming dance, the News-Post reported Monday.

"She is not a man," said Singleton Newman, a 22-year-old senior who was among the queen candidates. "It is a gender issue, and she is a woman."

Santo Provenzano, 21, who competed for king, said Jones' selection made the event seem like a joke. "It discourages guys from wanting to take part in the future," he said.

‘We will look at what students want’
Donald Miller, Hood's student activities director, said all homecoming events will be reviewed and possibly changed. "We will look at what students want Hood's homecoming to be," he said.

Jones, who is openly homosexual, received 64 of 169 votes cast, the News-Post reported. She is known on campus as a multi-sports athlete, member of the Student Government Association's executive board and president of Tolerance Education Acceptance, a support group for homosexual and bisexual students.

It was only the second annual homecoming at Hood, which didn't allow male students to live on campus until 2003. In 1912, the school's board of trustees changed its name to honor a wealthy benefactor. The institution became fully coeducational in 2002.

Jones tried to run last year for homecoming prince but the student committee wouldn't let her on the ballot, even though she had gathered the required number of signatures on nominating petitions.

‘Trying to be inclusive’
"We were trying to be inclusive of the male population and felt that because of this, we shouldn't allow a woman to run for the position," said Cheryl Banks, a committee member last year and this year's homecoming queen.

Miller said a rule change this year abolished the petitions and required that candidates be nominated by student ballots.

Jones said she didn't even know she was nominated until she saw her name on the final ballots that were distributed Feb. 13. Those ballots had been reviewed the night before by only half of the homecoming committee members at a hurriedly scheduled meeting, the News-Post reported.

Sophomore Jovanni Mahonez, who chaired this year's committee, said that before the ballots were distributed, she told both Miller and Olivia White, dean of students, that Jones was a king candidate.

Miller said the meeting was "more of an FYI than for her asking our permission."