BRITISH COLUMBIA

Male Student Told To Remove Lipstick For School Photo

10/02/2014 03:06 EDT | Updated 10/02/2014 03:59 EDT

Adam Bade was just being himself for school photos. And for him, that meant wearing makeup.

The Grade 11 student wore pink lipstick for his school portrait Tuesday in Vernon, B.C., but was told by the photographer to take it off. Now a group of his classmates at Vernon Secondary School are standing up to defend him.

"I was told I had to wipe it off and we questioned why," Bade told Castanet.net. “It caught me off guard completely."

One of his female friends, Joel Himmelspach, added: "We were eventually told, 'He’s a boy, he can’t wear makeup' ... Whereas I was wearing pretty much all guy clothes and I was allowed because I am a girl. That is gender discrimination and that is not right."

But the school's principal Malcolm Reid told Global News the whole thing was a misunderstanding, because some other students wore unacceptable costumes for the photos on purpose.

"The sad part of it is that there were a couple kids who were dressing the way they normally dress, and they got clumped together with that," Reid told Castanet.

He said the school will be meeting with the photography company, but he believes there was no purposeful discrimination. Reid said he thinks the photographers had been dealing with other misbehaving kids and it was an honest mistake.

But for the students, the fight is about making sure everyone feels comfortable presenting themselves the way they want to — regardless of gender.

"We need to feel safe at school, we need to feel like it is OK to be ourselves," said Bade.

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