Asante Cotman, a 17-year-old junior at Charles City High School in Charles City County, Va., says he was suspended for three days after refusing an order from school officials to take off a pair of high heels he was wearing, WWBT-TV reports.
Cotman told the station he was ordered to take off the shoes because they were "disrupting the school."
"I wore this jacket right here and my white shirt and my scarf and a pair of cargo pants and the heels," Cotman told WWBT. "I didn't see how it was bothering anyone. I wasn't revealing nothing."
The station's first report elicited heated response, prompting the WWBT crew followed up with Cotman, who told reporters he hopes the discussion will spark changes at the high school.
"I'm not advertising. I'm being myself," Cotman told the station in a separate report. "I want to be able to be a regular student. A gay regular student that attends CCHS."
School Principal Stephannie Crutchfield, who suspended Cotman, has declined to comment, but WWBT reports that district Superintendent Janet Crawley chalks the decision up to a safety hazard -- since Cotman's heels were 6 inches tall -- and not as discrimination.
"That is not our mission. I am not aware of him being unhappy here," Crutchfield told the station. "It's a situation where I'll have to investigate."
The incident comes after 17-year-old high school student Jamie Love was allegedly expelled in January for wearing women's clothing to school. The move sparked from community members and the expulsion was reversed -- but not before Love's feelings were hurt, the Scottish Daily Record reported.
"It took me years to finally open up to someone about my sexuality and now I feel betrayed by the people I trusted," Love told the Daily Record. "I have always felt different but I have never been able to talk about it. They have made me feel like a fool. I left the school in tears feeling totally humiliated and embarrassed."
Last year, a male student who wore high heels to Riverview High School in Florida was asked by an assistant principal to take them off. The reason, according to school Principal Bob Heilmann, was to "prevent bullying."
"Part of bullying is to try to prevent it, whether people make fun of what you are wearing, or your hair," Heilmann told WTSP-TV. "If I can prevent that, I will prevent that."
Some community members thought the incident only perpetuated intolerance and organized a protest.
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more