Purdue holds gender-neutral homecoming, honoring 'royalty' rather than king, queen

Purdue University in Indiana held its first gender-neutral homecoming on Saturday in an effort to bring equality to campus.

The university’s student-led Spirit and Traditions committee decided to do away with the traditional “king” and “queen” labels for the ceremony’s respective male and female winners, instead bestowing them with the title of “homecoming royalty.”

This year's winners were crowned during halftime of Purdue's homecoming football game against Boston College. The Boilermakers went on to beat Boston College 30-13.

Seniors Grant Wood, a biology major from Indianapolis, and industrial engineering major Lily Bishop, of Cincinnati, were selected by a combination of online student voting and formal interviews by a panel of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders, the University said in a news release.

Purdue isn’t the first university to break homecoming tradition and remove conventional gender labels.

Penn State University announced in April that its student-run homecoming committee elected to move toward a gender-neutral court to promote diversity and inclusivity.

“Our goal is to identify the best students to represent Penn State without regard to their gender, gender identity or gender expression,” said Ally Berdan, the committee’s executive director.

Purdue made headlines earlier this year for its writing guide, which instructed students to avoid using words with “man” in them, such as “mailman,” in favor of more gender-neutral terms like “mail carrier,” according to Campus Reform.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.