The parents of a Tampa Bay, Fla., student have started an online petition asking for improved tolerance training after their son was castigated for wearing makeup on the last day of school.
Chris Martin decided to wear black eyeliner, eye shadow and lipstick on the last day of eighth grade at Meadowlawn Middle School in St. Petersburg, Fla., The Tampa Bay Times reported. Administrators told the 14-year-old boy he was violating the dress code.
The two women who raised the teen say they understand why his shirt's image – an anarchy symbol and sheath – violated the code but the makeup was no different than what girls wear every day.
"When I asked what was wrong with his makeup," his mother, Jamie Himes said, "the face the principal gave me made my blood boil."
The Pinellas County School District backed the principal's decision. A spokeswoman for the district said there was more to the story.
"But that would mean sharing confidential student information, which I am not at liberty to discuss," spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra told the newspaper in an email.
The parents started a petition on moveon.org to improve tolerance training for teachers and administrators. They say their son has been beaten up, teased and had his belongings destroyed. His parents said the school's response has been inadequate.
In addition to training, the petition encourages schools to teach LGBT history and host Gay-Straight Alliance clubs.
"Schools need to be a safe place, and kids need to know they won't encounter intolerance there," Himes said. "It's not about our son anymore, it's about intolerance."