A high school introduced gender neutral prom 'Royal Knights' after facing backlash for telling a transgender student he couldn't run for prom king

Google MapsJohnson High School in Georgia.
  • Earlier this month, Dex Frier, who is transgender, said that school officials told him he couldn’t run for prom king because he is not “legally male.”
  • Now, the Hall County School District has done away with the prom king and queen gender binary.
  • Instead, students voted for two of their peers to be prom “Royal Knights” of any gender.
  • Frier won.
  • He said it wasn’t a perfect solution, but it was better than nothing.

Earlier this month, Dex Frier, who is transgender, said that school officials told him he couldn’t run for prom king because he is not “legally male.”

The story swiftly became the source of national backlash.

Ahead of the Gainesville, Georgia, high school’s prom, there was a policy overhaul, NBC News reports. Johnson High School fully did away with the prom king and queen gender binary. Instead, students voted for two of their peers to be prom “Royal Knights” of any gender.

“I think they changed the categories because they were starting to understand exactly how far our movement could go,” Frier, 17, told NBC News. “Our superintendent said that he didn’t want to put our school in between a hot topic, but he did that by neglecting to have rules that dictate gender-ruled ballots in the first place.”

The trouble started on March 15. According to BuzzFeed News two school officials called Frier into a meeting to tell him he could not run for prom king because he is not “legally male.” He described the meeting as “upsetting,” and leaving him feeling “suppressed.”

“They called me there to tell me I couldn’t run for prom king because I wasn’t legally male and that was the way it was in Hall County [school district],” the teen said. “The only way I was eligible to run for prom was to be put on the prom queen ballot.”

Following the principal and superintendent’s decision, one of Frier’s classmates created a petition advocating on his behalf. At The petition concluded with about 31,500 signatures.

“We, the Johnson High School student body, elected Dex Frier to represent us as a male member on Prom Court-this was a free-response, purely democratic election system in which Dex was one of six males who received the most votes,” the petition states. “Not only are we confused at this decision, but we are severely disappointed in the Hall County School Board.”

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The school’s answer to the petition and national media attention was to introduce a the gender neutral “Royal Knights” option, paying homage to their mascot. Frier said the solution felt imperfect.

“I wasn’t thrilled to hear that they made a completely non-binary ballot, but it was better than being exiled from the group,” Frier told NBC News. “I would have preferred the situation be left alone, because everyone was fine with it as it was, but I was grateful to still be included though.”

Ultimately, though, the 17-year-old and another male student from his graduating class took home the title. Frier said that he was happy about his victory.

“It was amazingly overwhelming to win,” Frier said. “They called my name, and all I could hear were my friends cheering for me. I just smiled extremely wide, and when I got to the bottom of the stairs, all of the people that had helped make this happen were either sobbing hysterically or smiling so wide I thought they would hurt themselves.”

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