CHARLES CITY COUNTY, Va. — A 17-year-old openly gay high school student was issued a three-day suspension last week for refusing to remove a pair of high heels he was wearing.
Asante Cotman, a junior at Charles City High School in Charles City County, Va., said he was ordered to take off the shoes because they were “disrupting the school,” reported WWBT-TV.
Beige stilettos ignited animosity between the high school junior and his principal. Asante Cotman says he’s the only openly gay male student at Charles City High. The spike heels were the crescendo, the boiling point for both.
Asante refused to take off the heels and the principal called him out of every class.
“She said I was being disrespectful because she told me to take them off and I didn’t take them off. And she called me again because I didn’t take them off. I don’t understand disrupting the class, because nobody was talking about it. Everybody was doing their work. People have seen me wear heels before. People see me with a pocketbook every day,” Asante said.
Principal Stephannie Crutchfield, who suspended Cotman, declined to comment, but WWBT-TV reported that district Superintendent Janet Crawley called the decision a safety hazard — since Cotman’s heels were 6 inches tall — and not discrimination.
“We do have rules about shoes you wear that’s going to cause you to injure yourself,” said Crawley.
Cotman said he feels his sexual orientation is the real reason behind the suspension. “They suspended me for being gay,” he said.