Students Successfully Petition For Teen's Right To Dress In Drag At School Assembly

"I owe everything to the students of Charlton School."

Power to the people!

At a private school in Wellington, England, hundreds of students came to the aid of one of their own after he was denied the right to dress in drag at his own student-organized graduation assembly.

Philipp Penning was inspired to wear a red dress, black wig, and high heels for his final assembly after playing Edna Turnblad in the school production of Hairspray earlier in the year, but when he informed the school administration of his choice, they forbid it. 

According to the Justice For Philipp website that was set up earlier this month (in conjunction with a Facebook group), the school's principal told Penning dressing in drag was "informal" and "unrespectable." That's when the students banded together to support one of their own, and the following day the student body circulated a petition that received over 280 signatures in less than 24 hours.

The petition was then taken to the principal, who agreed to let Penning participate in the assembly in an outfit of his choosing. "On Friday 12th May, Philipp wore the dress and looked fabulous doing it," the site states. 



The accompanying performance featured Penning belting out the Gloria Gaynor hit "I Will Survive" as the other students enthusiastically cheered him on. When his wig fell off in the midst of an epic hair flip, Penning handled it like a pro and kept singing. 

As the song came to a close and the audience applauded, he declared, "I'm the most gay thing that's ever happened to Charlton School."

"I was very nervous before the show," the 16-year-old told the Birmingham Mail. "My friends calmed me down and helped me come up with the start of the routine, everything else was improvised."

"Everyone was really positive afterwards. They were all so proud of me and I can't be more thankful," he added. "My fellow pupils were beyond supportive… I owe everything to the students of Charlton School."

In addition to the support from the other students, Penning had the complete backing of another important entity in his life: his mom, Michelle.

"I am so very proud of my child and support him every step of the way," Michelle told the Birmingham Mail. "I am completely amazed that so many young people have come together to support a fellow student. Slowly but surely we are becoming more accepting, tolerant and free to be who we want to be."

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