UPDATED Thursday, June 5, 2014 --- 8:12 a.m.
Some students at Middleton High School defied a warning from administrators not to cross-dress for the seniors' traditional dress-up day.
Superintendent Don Johnson says social media tipped administrators about the cross-dressing plan. School officials asked the seniors to reconsider because of the potential hurtfulness it could cause transgender students at the school.
About 25 students ignored the request when they showed up at school Wednesday. Johnson says most complied when they were asked to change. One student could face penalties for being less cooperative and may have to skip the graduation ceremony.
Copyright 2014: Associated Press
Posted, Wednesday June 4th 2014 --- 5:47 p.m.
A Middleton High School senior plan meant to be funny has administration asking them to think twice.
It's the end of the year and a week for seniors to have some fun, dressing in a new theme each day. Yesterday was beach day and today--cross dressing.
It's a battle between tradition and ever changing societal norms.
"It's a hard situation because this plan has been going on for many years, every year since I've been here at least, they've done the cross-dressing theme," says Kirsten Oliver, a Middleton High School senior.
She's heading to Minnesota in the fall, and as a senior, couldn't wait to spend one of her last weeks as a high schooler dressing up in themed outfits.
"I didn't dress up because I was struggling with which side I agree with," says Oliver.
According to students, it's been a tradition for the class to swap genders for a day. Girls dressing as boys and vice versa. But yesterday, all seniors were sat down, and strongly encouraged to think about their peers and skip the cross dressing, or possibly lose their right to walk at graduation.
"We really thought about that carefully and said "is this something that respectful for all students?" and I think the answer was generally, well, probably not," says district Superintendent Don Johnson.
Johnson says tradition or not, what's acceptable is always changing. He says there are up to 20 students at the school who identify as transgender and just last month approached the school board about being more accepting of transgenders.
"At one point it was OK to dress up like an African American and paint your face black, in the 60's and that was sort of an entertainment thing, and now that would be viewed as completely unacceptable," Johnson adds.
This morning 20-30 seniors still showed up dressed in theme. Johnson says those students were asked to change. But seniors say that's not right either.
"You're telling me that I can't dress as a boy, then what is that message saying?" says Oliver.
Jack Mayers says he understands where the school is coming from, but says they should have had that meeting well before yesterday.
"I feel like that's what most of the kids, that's what my biggest problem with it is is the way we're being told about it and the way we're being treated. It's really not so much the idea behind it, because we wouldn't want to alienate or offend any of the students at MHS. But the fact that they're going about it this way, in this threatening, very aggressive, type of way, that doesn't sit well with a lot of students who have put in a lot of hard work and have given a lot to the school," says Mayers.