On his last day of middle school, Chris Martin, an eighth grader in Meadowlawn Middle School in Pinellas County, Florida, wore makeup to school. As a result, Chris was pulled out of class for violating the dress code, and school administrators demanded Chris wash off the make-up or leave school.
Even though there is no written prohibition against it, the principal refused to allow Chris to proudly enjoy the last school-day of the year. According to Chris's parents, the school's principal told them that it was "distracting" and "completely ridiculous and unnecessary for boys to wear make-up" in front of other parents, staff and students.
Outraged, the Martin family contacted the Pinellas County School Board, which stood by the school’s actions.
Inspired by the success of the anti-bullying petition by the 11 year old Marcel Neergaard and his family. The Martin family started a petition on MoveOn.org asking the district to require tolerance training for all administrators and faculty, encourage gay-straight alliance clubs in all secondary schools, and sponsor an inclusive curriculum that includes positive images of the LGBT community. The petition already has over 1,300 signatures.
In the petition, Katelynn Martin, Chris's mother, wrote, "My son has endured vicious bullying for the last several years, and unfortunately, he is not the only one. These attacks are terribly damaging to young people, who are already struggling to find their identity. Incidents like the one yesterday only serve to further isolate these kids, who feel abandoned by the educators that are charged with their safety and well-being."
Take a stand against bullying. Sign the petition in support of Chris Martin and all youth that deserve to be safe and free to express themselves. Demand that schools prepare and train their faculty and create more inclusive curriculums. Let's work to make our schools safe and accepting places for all students.
GLAAD is working with Chris Martin and family, and will be sharing this story of a student being bullied, not only by fellow students, but by school administration. As we lead up to Spirit Day in October, we remember what LGBT students go through at the beginning and end of each school year.