Right to wear makeup

Wearing black lipstick and face paint to school is a religious right, says a ninth-grade boy in Southern California.

James Herndon, 16, said the five-day suspension imposed Monday by administrators at San Bernardino’s Pacific High School was unfair because females are allowed to wear cosmetics on campus.

Herndon says his black lipstick and red eye makeup express the Wiccan religious beliefs he shares with his mother, a priestess in the neo-pagan faith. He contends the suspension violates his constitutional right to free expression.

Check out the photo. It’s a Goth-clown effect.

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  1. Does anyone know more about the facts of the story? Something doesn’t add up. He’s been wearing makeup the whole time, and he’s repeating his second year at the school, but he only recently was suspended for it? Do you suppose he told the school before he got into trouble that he wore it as a religious display? In the article, he says he wears it because it makes him feel better.

    I suspect if a school is suspending boys for wearing makeup like this, the same school probably wouldn’t let a girl wear similar makeup.

    There must be more to this story.

  2. lindenen says:

    I can see how makeup styled like that could be a major distraction. Also, I have a difficult time believing that doing one’s makeup like a Marilyn Manson devotee is a religious issue.

  3. mike from oregon says:

    The article merely talks about his makeup being the problem. If you click on the video story it doesn’t talk about the makeup but says that he was suspended for disrupting school activities and defying authority. So if the real suspension is for the later two charges, run his rear end out on a rail, as far as I’m concerned.

    However, I would not allow the makeup either, to me the makeup would be a distraction and disruption of classroom activities. Just because there isn’t a written rule doesn’t mean it’s allowed. For example, there probably isn’t a rule that your pants can’t have a hole cut in the crotch area, I don’t think we need a rule for every little possible incident. His ‘looks’ are too far out of the norm to keep from distracting the class – as far as it being a ‘religion’ thing, remember, separation of church and state.

  4. Funny, I’ve known plenty of “wiccans” or other neo-pagans in my time.

    Not a one of them wore Insane Clown Posse makeup.

    Nor am I aware of any tradition (such as traditions exist for a religion made up of an accumulation of half-assed guesses, historical jumble, and outright fabrication early in the 20th century) of wiccans and outre face-paint.

    I suspect the judge is going to take this about as seriously as it deserves. The alternative is that anything someone (or perhaps two people) decide is their “religion” will be protected as untouchable, which seems ripe for abuse. “Real” religions have more than two adherents who agree on the tenets in question, I reckon. (Without even having to decry wicca or neo-paganism as “fake religions”, which I might be tempted to do in my surlier moments, it sure seems like the face-paint is not commonly accepted as a religious sacrament or requirement by neo-pagans in general, or even in significant particular.)

  5. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Of course, if someone slugged this jerk it would be a hate crime.

  6. A relevant example is France. Muslims there (unsuccessfully) demanded the right to wear religious headgear in violation of the strict secularism of the schools. Which is fair. You can be PC – or be fair instead.

  7. I just think that makeup does not go well with stubble.

    And he needs to work on technique a little better — he should check out the makeup work on KISS, for example. Invest in some nice metallic body paint, and get a good applicator.