After receiving the most votes from the junior class at her high school, Scarlett Lenh was named homecoming princess at Sand Creek High School in Colorado Springs. What makes her win unusual in a season of homecomings is that Scarlett is a biological boy who was once knows as Andy Lenh. Lenh won the crown over three biological girls at the football game on Friday night. As her name was announced at half-time, while she was escorted by two of her best friends, the only sound heard from the stand were cheers.
After discovering during an afternoon assembly that she had received the majority of votes from her junior class, Lenh says she “couldn’t stop smiling.” The 16-year-old knew she was a girl when she was seven or eight years old. This year, she began publicly identifying herself as a transgender girl and started using the girls’ bathroom. Regarding the girls who failed to receive the most votes, Lenh said that two of them had been “extremely supportive,” but one had been “really upset.”
Lenh was surprised to even be nominated for the title of homecoming princess. Although one of her friends mentioned the possibility to her, she dismissed it as unlikely. Now that she has won the title, she finds that “it really matters to me.” The transgender high school student says she wanted to vie for the crown in her freshman and sophomore years because she “want(s) people to be themselves” and to be comfortable with themselves.
Sand Creek High School is located in Falcon School District 49, which also houses the National Association of Evangelicals and Focus on the Family. Matt Meister, the spokesman for the district, said that high school and district officials “respect the decision” of the students. He added that the district standard is that nobody be excluded from taking part in district activities based on their “gender identity and gender expression.”
Not everyone associated with the high school agrees with Meister. Jana Neathery is the grandmother of a Sand Creek student and she said that the idea of nominating Lenh for homecoming princess was initially a joke, but that “he got a lot of nominations.” She added that Lenh’s involvement in the homecoming process caused a lot of girls to be upset because it left one fewer spot for which to vie. Neathery says that she feels sympathy for Lenh because “he’s transgender,” but said that Lenh should be “on the boys’ side.”
Lenh’s election as a transgender homecoming princess comes after a ruling last year by the Colorado Civil Rights Division in the case of a first-grade transgender girl who was given the right to use the girls’ restroom of her school. The division found that denying her access to the girls’ bathroom violated the Anti-Discrimination Act of Colorado. Neathery says that allowing Lenh to use the girls’ bathroom is “ridiculous” because “he’s interested in girls.” When asked by The Gazette if she was, in fact, interested in girls and using the girls’ bathroom, Lenh said that she has not “been attracted to anything” in the last 16 months. According to Neathery, when she took her concerns to the principal of Sand Creek, she was told that if Lenh is using the bathroom and a girl is uncomfortable, the burden is on the offended girl to leave the bathroom.
By Jennifer Pfalz