(Source: WBRC video) (Source: WBRC video)
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) –
Arnold Wooten is not afraid to admit he likes to wear makeup. “I had a friend who did makeup and I thought she did it real nice and I thought I wanted to try it out and ever since then I been doing it,” said Wooten.
Wooten says he enjoyed it so much, two years ago he started wearing it to school.
The Parker High junior says it was never a problem. In fact, he says some of the students, and even administrators complimented him on it.
But he says that changed Monday. “I was going to my class and I was stopped by my principal and he told me come here for a second,” he recounted.
“He was like, ‘You need to take it off. It’s not appropriate for school. It’s a distraction, your eyeshadow. You cannot have that here,’” he says the principal told him.
But having worn the same makeup before, Wooten says he refused to take it off.
He says he was led to a conference room while the principal called his parents.
But Wooten’s mother, Ona, stood by his side. “It hasn’t been a problem before. And you say it’s distracting, but how is it distracting?”
Upset, Arnold made a post on Facebook in which he said his principal was homophobic.
Because he made the post during school hours, the Wootens say Arnold was suspended for three days.
But they also claim at least 25 other students posted during the same school day.
So why was Arnold suspended?
Ona Wooten says she doesn’t feel the principal is homophobic, but does feel her son was discriminated against.
“I feel they don’t want him to wear the makeup because they’re uncomfortable with it,” she says. “My son is not bad because he expresses himself in that manner and likes to wear his makeup.”
Tuesday afternoon, the Birmingham School System issued this statement about the situation:
The Birmingham City Schools system respects the gender identity and the right to gender expression of all students. The incident and subsequent action in question today is in response to violation of the district’s technology resources agreement as well as several provisions of the student code of conduct. The Birmingham City Schools system abides by all local, state and federal laws which govern anti-discrimination and will continue to cultivate a safe, secure and nurturing environment for all students.
Copyright 2017 WBRC. All rights reserved.