Male Students and the Right to Wear Make-up

Two Florida Parents have started an online petition after their teenager was ‘bullied’ by his principal for wearing makeup to school.

14-year old Chris Martin attended his last day of 8th grade wearing eye makeup, lipstick, and a shirt with an anarchy symbol. Shortly after arriving at school, however, administrators asked Chris to change his shirt and remove his makeup because they violated the school dress code.

As reported, Chris wore the makeup as a mark of finally being able to be himself after battling with the effects of bullying. But ultimately, his act of self-expression ended in a trip to the principal’s office and a call to his parents.

Though his parents found the principal’s request to remove the t-shirt reasonable, they did not understand why Chris had to remove his makeup, noting that makeup isn’t even mentioned in the school dress code.

800px-Brown_eye_shadow_paletteOne of Chris’s moms told reporters that during the meeting, the principal remarked, “boys wearing makeup is unnecessary,” “a distraction,” and that it is “ridiculous to even ask the question.”

Because of those comments, Chris’s parents linked the administration’s concern with their son’s makeup to his sexuality. Subsequently, they created an online petition directed to the School Board that shames the administration and rallies for LGBTQ tolerance. The petition now has over 10,000 signatures.

Whether the principal sought to ‘bully’ on sexual orientation, regulate gender expectations, or simply squash ‘punk’ dress determines the constitutional contours of the ability to punish Chris for wearing makeup.

But self-advocacy rather than constitutional litigation may be more effective in this situation — In the online public forum, the parents and student have already reached a vast audience, calling a community’s attention to the incident, and demanding remedy for Chris and others.

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