Romeo Clarke, a 5-year-old little boy in the UK, has been banned from his church-run after-school program because the princess costumes he likes to wear were "confusing" the other children. They say he can only rejoin the playgroup if he wears "clothes which match his gender."
"I spoke to three other parents who take their children to the group," said Romeo's mother Georgina. "I asked them if Romeo wearing the dress concerned them or their children in any way and they all said no."
Georgina was shocked and enraged when the head of the after-school program told her last week that the boy would not be allowed back unless he wore "gender-appropriate clothing."
According to his mom, Romeo loves dressing up in his princess clothes—he has about 100 dresses and eight pairs of children's high-heeled shoes—and his family supports him. He also likes to have his curly hair straightened, his nails painted and he prefers to play with Barbies. Georgina says her son has had an eye for "glitzy things" since he was 2.
"He wears his dress to the supermarket and sings down the aisles, he isn't bothered what people think. I don't think he should be, I'm proud he is so free and comfortable with himself," she said.
Bex Venables, the Minister in Training at the Rugby Christian Fellowship where Romeo had been attending the after-school playgroup, defended her decision in a statement, saying that it was in Romeo's best interest, so as to avoid teasing.
Georgina's son is still allowed to attend Buzz Children's Club but has been asked to wear clothing of the gender stated on his registration form, which states male. Buzz Children's Club seeks to follow our usual safeguarding guidelines and we did so in this case in order to avoid any confusion or possible conflict or teasing from other children.
"He won't be going back there," Georgina said. "He will just have to go somewhere else."