A transgender teen in Ohio who was elected sophomore homecoming princess as a supposed joke by her schoolmates instead used the title to promote acceptance.
Cassie Steiner, 15, was voted in last week at Mariemont High School, Cincinnati newspaper The Enquirer reports. Mariemont is a suburb of Cincinnati. Steiner came out as a trans girl in April and began her social transition in June.
A school guidance counselor called Cassie's mother, Kat Steiner, and told her Cassie's election was a "mean-spirited joke," The Enquirer reports. The counselor said Cassie could opt out, but the student and her mother decided otherwise.
"She didn't hesitate to own the fact that she was not going to back down," Kat Steiner told the paper about Cassie. "She knew that she was going to be a trailblazer."
"I think the school has been ill-prepared for this," she added. "I think this is political, not just in Mariemont but across the nation. It's a tough position for the school to be in, and I recognize that. I'm sensitive to that. I am trying very hard to give grace ... and allow the school time to figure out what their next steps are. At the same time, I will never call Mariemont progressive."
Kat Steiner also made the family's views clear in a Facebook post. "Cassie is taking the high ground and making history as trans royalty," she wrote. "She's owning her title as the sophomore Homecoming Princess because, well, when they go low, we go high. We choose to celebrate! I've asked for one of the top three administrators to escort her as a sign of solidarity, as there will not be a sophomore prince since none of top 4 nominated males accepted the title."
Multiple administrators did escort Cassie in the homecoming parade Friday evening, and paradegoers showed support with T-shirts emblazoned "Queen Cassie" and a variety of signs, her mother posted later. Some people in the town had a less supportive view, but "I am choosing gratitude" toward those who stood up for Cassie, Kat Steiner wrote.
"Every marathon starts with one step," she said in the post. "You made this step happen and it's a historic one. Feel good! Take it in."