Pictured: Courtney Steiner (in pink) and Carly Levy (in navy).
Courtney Steiner and Carly Levy have made history, becoming the first same-sex couple to be elected prom royalty at their high school and possibly in the entire state of Pennsylvania.
The two were voted in last week at Pennridge High School, located in Perkasie, in Bucks County just north of Philadelphia.
“I think that it shows how inclusive and progressive we’re becoming,” Steiner told the Courier Times, a local newspaper.
But at first the two 18-year-old seniors weren’t even sure they’d be allowed to run, given that students elected prom royalty have traditionally been kings and queens. However, the student group that plans prom had already agreed to go with gender-neutral terms.
“I wasn't sure if Pennridge was going to allow it because this region and this county can lean a little away from allowing that kind of thing to happen,” Levy told area TV station WPVI. “But I was so excited when I found out that it was.”
The two young women, who have been in a relationship since March and were nominated for prom royalty by a friend, were even more excited when they won. “All of the pictures of us from right afterward are just us with our jaws, like, dropped to the floor,” Steiner noted to the Courier Times.
They have received much support from their schoolmates, but they occasionally hear an anti-LGBTQ+ slur. “I’ve been called derogatory terms, and we were holding hands the other day and we were called a slur,” Levy told the newspaper. But they’re focusing on the support instead.
“I had a teacher pull me aside the other day, and she was like, ‘Congratulations! I'm really proud of the student body, it gives me hope,’” Steiner said. They hope their accomplishment makes other LGBTQ+ students feel more accepted.
School administrators see that happening already. “What we are so excited about is that it was really student driven, it’s organic and really does reflect this grade level and how passionate they are about being inclusive,” Pennridge School District spokeswoman Kallie Cooper told the Courier Times.
National LGBTQ+ rights group GLAAD was also pleased. “It’s an amazing story of support and inclusion for LGBTQ youth, especially at a time when so many are being targeted across the country,” Barbara Simon, head of news and campaigns at GLAAD, wrote in an email to WPVI.
In the past few years, while some students in conservative areas have had to fight to bring same-sex dates to school events (as dramatized in the play and film The Prom), there have been several instances of same-sex couples or LGBTQ+ individuals being named prom or homecoming royalty. Kings High School in Ohio, for instance, recently elected a female couple, Annie Wise and Riley Loudermilk, as prom king and queen. But Steiner and Levy appear to be the first same-sex couple elected in Pennsylvania.
The two will graduate next week and will be college-bound in the fall. Steiner will be a pre-med student majoring in biology at Franklin and Marshall College, and Levy will study meteorology and atmospheric science at Penn State University.