Homecoming week at high schools around the country marks a time celebrating school spirit and timeless traditions. Many students enjoy pep rallies, football games, dances and selecting a homecoming court to represent their school.
While those rites of passage are all old hat by now, the students of Olympia High School in Orlando took the opportunity to make their 2021 homecoming one for the local history books. For the first time in school history, they voted a transgender student onto their homecoming court but then took it a step further and also chose her as this year’s queen.
Evan Bialosuknia, 17, added a simple caption on an Instagram post announcing her new title along with a photo showing her in full royal attire for the big day. “Made History,” Evan wrote on her post, which includes a gallery of four photos from the day of her coronation.
She also shared a photo that shows her wearing the homecoming court sash on her Facebook page.
The newly elected OHS homecoming queen told Orlando’s WESH-TV that winning the title helped ease some of her anxiety over how her fellow students felt about her transition, which began only a few months ago.
“It made me feel like I actually belonged,” Evan said in the interview. “Not just like a joke. ‘Cause that was one of my fears, I was in bed one night like, ‘What if they were just doing this to laugh at me?'”
Evan’s mother, Marnie Bialosknia, told CNN that her daughter’s transition has been a “long and difficult process” that her family supports. She recognized many others in her daughter’s position don’t have the same support from their fellow students, families and their communities at large.
She’s not wrong. A 2021 survey of American teens who are LGBTQ found that a staggering 48% of them had considered suicide in the previous year, while 20% had attempted to kill themselves. The figures were even worse among trans youth, with 52% of them saying they had seriously thought about suicide.
While some progress has been made in protecting the rights of students who are trans, Evan knows more work needs to happen. She told CNN while many people congratulated her for being crowned, others have been less than kind.
“Me winning isn’t trying to change anyone’s mind to accept me and understand it,” she told the network. “It’s just to show anyone can do anything, and if you’re a part of the LGBTQ+ community, it doesn’t make you weirder or [more of] a loner than everyone.”