St. Petersburg 8th-grader told not to wear makeup to school despite lack of rule prohibiting it

CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office,, (786) 363-2737

Largo, FloridaThe American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida yesterday sent a letter to the Superintendent of the Pinellas County School Board explaining that an incident in which a male student was forced to remove makeup was unlawful.

Chris Martin, an 8th-grader attending Meadowlawn Middle School in St. Petersburg, went to school on the last day of classes wearing makeup. Upon arriving at school, Martin was escorted to the front office and told that his makeup was prohibited, despite the lack of a rule prohibiting makeup in the Student Code of Conduct and the fact that female students routinely wear makeup to the same school. When Chris’s parents came to the school to discuss the matter, Principal Claud Effiom continued to refuse to allow Chris to wear makeup in school.

“It is unfortunate that the school refused to allow Chris to express himself in this manner,” stated Daniel Tilley, staff attorney for the ACLU of Florida. “The school evidently has a different policy for boys than it does for girls, which it is not permitted to have. Gender stereotypes pervade our society, and not every person fits into the expectations that those stereotypes create. When schools force children to conform to those stereotypes, they violate the law. Students who do not conform to gender stereotypes are often subject to bullying at school, which presumably the school wishes to combat. Rather than being a leader in confronting and working to end discrimination based on gender stereotypes, Principal Effiom is instead furthering it with his disappointing decision.”

The letter sent to Superintendent Michael Grego explains that applying a different rule to Chris because he is male constitutes sex discrimination in violation of the United States Constitution, the Florida  Constitution, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. From the letter:

“The fact that a student’s outward appearance is gender-nonconforming does not give school administrators a license to discriminate. The school’s policy regarding makeup must treat all students equally.

“We hope you will ensure that school administrators in your district adhere to these legal obligations, and we are always available to assist in making schools safer and more welcoming for all students, should you choose to use us as a resource.”

A copy of the full letter is available here: