The lesbian parents of a 14-year-old boy have started a MoveOn.org petition after their son was asked to remove the lipstick, black eyeliner and eye shadow he wore to Meadowlawn Middle School in St. Petersburg, Florida. The student, Chris Martin, was also also asked to change out of a shirt emblazoned with an anarchy symbol.
The incident occurred last week on the eighth-grader’s last day of school, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
Not long after Martin got to school, school officials informed him that he was in violation of the dress code.
Martin’s two mothers, Jamie Himes and Katelynn Martin, were okay with the decision to forbid the shirt but livid that the eighth-grade boy was not permitted to wear the same cosmetics many eighth-grade girls wear regularly.
Martin, who has allegedly been victimized in previous bullying incidents at school, has not publicly declared his sexual orientation, notes the Times.
“When I asked what was wrong with his makeup, the face the principal gave me made my blood boil.” Himes told the Times.
“I can’t believe in this day and age that someone would think this was that big of an issue,” Katelynn Martin added.
The parents charge that Principal Claud Effiom said — in front of other parents, students and staffers — that it is “completely ridiculous and unnecessary for boys to wear makeup.”
The parents also contended that the middle school’s handbook makes not mention of beauty products.
Melanie Marquez Parra, a spokeswoman for the school district, suggested that the parents’ account of the story isn’t accurate and complete.
“There is more to the story,” Parra told the Times. “But that would mean sharing confidential student information, which I am not at liberty to discuss.”
Martin’s lesbian parents launched the MoveOn.org petition in a bid to force tolerance training upon the faculty and administration at all schools in the district.
“Schools need to be a safe place, and students need to know they won’t encounter intolerance there,” Himes told the Times. “It’s not about our son anymore; it’s about intolerance.”
The petition also seeks to make curricula more gay-friendly.
The full text of the petition entitled “Pinellas County (FL) School Board: Don’t Side With the Bullies!” reads:
Make our schools safe and accepting places for all students. Require tolerance training for all administrators and faculty, encourage gay-straight alliance (GSA) clubs in all secondary schools, and sponsor an inclusive curriculum that includes positive images of the LGBTQ community.
The petition has received over 1,200 signatures so far. While the creators of the petition had been asking for a mere 500 signatures, they now seek 2,000 total signatures.
It’s not clear what gravitas the additional 1,500 signatories will bring to the petition.
MoveOn.org began in 1998 when two married software entrepreneurs initiated a petition asking Congress to “censure President Clinton and move on” instead of impeaching him.
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- Chris Martin