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Suspensions Won’t Stop Boy From Wearing Dress To School

September 14, 1996

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) _ A gay high school student suspended several times for wearing a dress, makeup and a wig to class says he has no plans to change his wardrobe.

``This is who I am,″ said 15-year-old Matt Stickney, who showed up Friday with a black top and a pink, red, and green flowered skirt. ``If they’re going to kick me out every day of the week, this is going to happen every day.″

Administrators say the outfits worn by the Burlington High School sophomore disrupt class and therefore violate the district’s dress code.

About 100 students cut class to protest the suspensions, with some boys wearing pink lipstick and girls wearing white button-down shirts and ties.

``I’m 17. If I’m going to wear a leotard, they’re not going to stop me,″ said Louis Gilbeau, a junior. ``What’s the difference between a leotard and a wrestling uniform?″

Added Lisa Martell, a 15-year-old freshman wearing a tie: ``People should wear what they want. It’s not fair.″

A gay services group, Outright Vermont, criticized the suspensions.

``There are gay, lesbian, bisexual, cross-dressing young people,″ said Executive Director Karin Eade. ``For a school not to celebrate that and not to provide a safe environment for him to learn ... I think is dangerous.″

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