NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - There is controversy in the halls of a local high school over how a teenaged boy was treated when he wore high heels to school.
More than 20 supporters turned out in front of Niagara Falls High School on Thursday for 17-year-old junior Tyreese Maye. The openly gay student wasn't allowed to wear the same bright red high heels that many girls were wearing in the high school.
"I wore some high stiletto red heels and I had many girls wear them, too, just to see who they would pick out first. I didn't even last a period because I went to breakfast and they told me to take them off. It was an administrator and he told me to take them off and I told him, 'Tell this girl to take her heels off.' And he said, 'No, I'm making you take yours off first.' And I said, 'That's not fair,'" said Maye.
He first refused to take them off, but gave in after he says he was threatened with suspension in the principal's office.
Student Autumn Gotel said, "I had on heels yesterday all day long; they let me wear them walking up and down the stairs all day. There's about five or six of my friends had on heels they didn't say anything. They say the reason Tyreese couldn't wear his heels was because it was distracting."
Maye argued, "How is this a distraction? There are girls that are half-naked in school. That's a distraction."
Administrator James Spanbauer says it was partly a safety issue in case of a fire in the four-story building.
"I would say there probably are some students who go through the day without us addressing, but our intention is to keep everybody safe and administer the Code of Conduct equally across the board and we do the best we can with 1,900 students and when we see things that are inappropriate we address it," said Spanbauer, who denied there was a double-standard for boys wearing heels.
The group has also started a petition, already amassing a few hundred signatures.
Maye's mother, Jenyne Powell, said, "I'm proud of him that he wants to stand up for himself and defend what he feels is right."
Classes won't resume until early January, and Maye plans to present his petition at the next school board meeting in late January.
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