Jonathan Escobar tells his side part 1
Teen, N. Cobb High clash over dress code
Oct 08, 2009 | 44 44 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend
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by Jon Gillooly
Teen, N. Cobb High clash over dress code
by Jon Gillooly
October 08, 2009 01:00 AM | 13297 views | 44 44 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jonathan Escobar tells his side part 1
Jonathan Escobar tells his side part 2
Jonathan Escobar tells side part 2
Jonathan Escobar, 16, right, of Kennesaw, withdrew from North Cobb High School amid controversy over his attire. Sophomore Jarae Comstock, 16, of Acworth is one of his friends who started a petition on Facebook in his support.<br>Photo by Samantha Wilson
Jonathan Escobar, 16, right, of Kennesaw, withdrew from North Cobb High School amid controversy over his attire. Sophomore Jarae Comstock, 16, of Acworth is one of his friends who started a petition on Facebook in his support.
Photo by Samantha Wilson
KENNESAW - Jonathan Escobar, 16, moved to Kennesaw from Miami and enrolled last week at North Cobb High School. In only two days there, he created quite a stir.

That's because Escobar often dresses in women's clothing - and even used the girls' bathroom at the school. School officials asked him to tone it down, and Escobar dropped out Friday as a result.

"I'm not going to dress like a man. I'm not going to wear depressing boring clothes. I'm going to express myself," he said in an interview with the Journal on Wednesday.

Superintendent Fred Sanderson said he supports the school's efforts to maintain "a safe and orderly learning environment at North Cobb."

"From what I understand, the school was very accommodating with this student and reached out to him more than once to let him know they were there to support him. When his style of dress began causing a disruption, the school took the proper steps to enforce the dress code," Sanderson said.

Escobar attended North Cobb on Sept. 29 and Sept. 30 before withdrawing Oct. 2, said district spokesman Jay Dillon.

Dillon said the school pulled him out of class on the first day to let him know staff was available if he needed any help.

"The student had already used the girls' bathroom once, and school staff recognized that this would be a problem. They also knew it could be a problem for his safety to use the boys' bathroom. So they allowed him to use the administrators' restroom and the guidance restroom. He was the only one of 2,600 students who had that privilege," Dillon said.

Problems apparently began on the second day.

"When he came to school the next day in high heels and a bright pink wig, it immediately began to cause a disruption," Dillon said.

Dillon said a fight erupted in one classroom between one student who called Escobar a name and another who defended him. Another fight broke out in the lunchroom.

"The student's dress was disrupting the entire school," Dillon said.

An administrator met with Escobar, telling him to adhere to the dress code, Dillon said.

"You can't wear clothing that causes a disruption," he said.

The dress code is set by the Cobb school board and enforced by the school.

Escobar refused. He also refused to help the school contact his parents or a guardian, Dillon said.

"The next day he did not show up at school, and the next day he withdrew himself from school and called the TV stations," Dillon said.

The son of Colombian natives Diana and Octavio Escobar, who are now settled in Miami, Escobar recently moved to Kennesaw to live with his sister, Veronica Escobar, because "Miami education isn't so good."

Escobar said his first memories of experimenting with clothing come from trying on his mother's high-heels as a child. It was love at first sight.

"It's art. It's who I am. I'm an artist. This is how I express my art," he said.

He enjoys wearing makeup, complete with fake eyelashes and mascara. His style depends on what kind of mood he's in. One day it may be "shoulder pads on crack," and another day it may be tight fitting jeans, a skirt, or "little vintage stuff."

"It makes me feel so, I don't know, so beautiful. I love it. ...When I put it on, I feel so luxurious, so Hollywood glamour," he said of the vintage clothing.

At first, his parents weren't too pleased.

"My parents are, you know, Hispanic. They are very traditional. It was hard at first, but they learned to accept me. You have to be patient. We butted heads a lot. They cared a lot what people thought about them. And to this day, I'm telling my mom never care what people think of you. ... Stop being so afraid, and that's my message to everyone," he said.

Escobar agrees the second day at North Cobb is when he encountered problems.

"I think it was on the second day that the football team started to really notice me. They were just staring. I think they're all secretly in love with me," he said.

He said Jackie Turner, an assistant administrator at North Cobb, told him last Wednesday to change his attire.

"She told me that in order to further my education at North Cobb I was to, you know, dress more manlier," Escobar said.

"She told me 'you have to dress in your sex, not the opposite sex, dress more manlier, no makeup, no wigs, no female clothing. And she said, 'or we could do home school, now there's other options.' I didn't have time to hear other options so I told her I can't. This is me. I can't change it," he said.

Dillon said no one told Escobar he had to dress "manlier."

"That's wrong. No one at North Cobb said that to him," Dillon said. "The student was never disciplined and was not forced out of North Cobb. He was told to tone down his dress so that it adhered to the dress code and did not cause a disruption."

Dillon said what he means by "toning down" Escobar's dress, is "removing the wig and any other types of clothing that would cause a disruption."

"He even admitted to the (administrator) that the wig was inappropriate and was causing problems, but he refused to take it off. Those are the facts. The school is not to blame here," Dillon said.

Yet Escobar is perplexed.

"I didn't a wear mini skirt," he said.

Escobar does seem willing to make some compromises.

"If they say don't wear a wig, I won't wear I wig. I have hair. I don't have to wear a wig," he said.

"I'm not in school. I'm not learning. I'm at home taking care of my nieces and watching TV wishing I could be getting my education."

Escobar says he's considering speaking to the Cobb school board at its meeting next Wednesday.

"Maybe they had a problem with me being gay and that's why they did this. Who knows?" Escobar said. "I just want to help people - I want to motivate people that it's OK to be different. It's OK if you have different dreams than most of your friends and family members, it's OK if people laugh at you."

North Cobb students have created a "Support Jonathan" page on Facebook that has already attracted some 1,500 members.

"I was born and raised here. My parents came here for a reason, and as an American, I have freedom of expression. Do I stand out that much? I don't understand why they're making such a big deal out of it," he said.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
June 06, 2011
This was a clear cut case of a schools misuse of power. Granted they didn't force him out of the school but I am sure that would have been there next option. There was several alligation about his flamboyant clothing that came up and were never spoken about again. They schools adminstrators clearly tried to make these narrow minds young teens happy by attempting to force Escobar into wearing a more "manly attire". Instead of teaching acceptance they taught fear to these impressionable teens. Fear of the unknown and the unwillingness to accept someone they way they are.
January 02, 2010
Two months have gone by. Has this kid continued his education or his he going to stick to his dressing in drag and lose any future he may have had. Sometime you have to give up something to get something. You can not let everyone do as they wish in a learning environment. Rules are rules live with them or prove they are not beneficial to all. This kid proved one thing, he is not as mature as he thinks. Come on kid grow up face the real world .
eat cobb mom
October 17, 2009
This is just another kid who wants his 15 minutes of fame, reminds me of balloon boys family, and the media just exacerbates it all. Cobb County handled this one well, just go back to Miami....
Kenny G
October 14, 2009
This is not an issue of hate or discrimination against gay people, so let's not even bring that up. We all know that there are gay people in every high school in America and there is nothing wrong with that. But what is wrong is causing a distraction to other students. I can't believe someone would say that this is not a distraction because if I saw a boy walking down the hall in a pink wig and high heels, it would get my attention.I remember my girlfriend in High school was sent home because her skirt was to short, it was a distraction so they should have sent her home. This situation is the same, anyone who goes out of their way to cause a distraction to other students who are trying to learn should be sent home. I agree with uniforms in school, because it will get rid of any problems that occur like this one.

October 13, 2009
Thanks for coming from your school in Miami and taking the focus off of the education of our kids.
October 12, 2009
The world is full of useless rules, regulations and unnecessary laws. Convince me how he is hurting you or your education then you might have a case. He did NOT violate the dress code, otherwise he would be sent home to change. And if he did use the girls restroom, why wasn't he suspended or reprimanded by the administration? Oopsie, somebody's lying.....
Alan F.
October 11, 2009
The world is full of rules/laws/regulations/requirements. There is no such thing as complete personal freedom to do whatever one wants. The earlier he learns this the better off he will be in life.
April 21, 2014
lmao great, another drone who cant spend the 5 seconds to possibly think "Hey, this rule is flat out stupid. It does more harm than good, threatens vulnerable people, and serves no useful purpose." You do realizes that rules/laws/etc get changed because they are often hilariously wrong, right?
October 11, 2009
Fine job, MDJ. What we have here is a case of bigotry. Lockheed Martin added "gender identity or expression" to its Equal Employment Opportunity statement two years ago and it is years behind the leaders in the business world. If you want the best and the brightest, you have to go after the non-traditional people. If you want to fall behind, just keep up the bigotry.

I live and work in Cobb County because my family percieved it as being less bigoted than Fort Worth Texas. But I can see I was wrong.

Usually, the more eductated and intelligent people are, the more they are open to non-traditional roles. One child displaying non-traditional gender expression sure has thrown so-called experts into a position showing just how un-educated they are and how bigotted they are.

Way to go Jonathan.
October 09, 2009
What a waste of time for administrators. This kid wanted attention and he got it. Unfortunately, when parents do try to discipline their kids these days, there always seems to be a friend or relative to bail them out. Oh, there lives are so tough - ha, ha. He can be gay, but he cannot violate the rights of others to have an education. Going to the ladies' restroom, get real. He knew exactly what he was doing. Also, if a female shows up with a pink wig and disrupts class, she will be sent home. (Possibly even suspended.) The administrators would do their jobs regardless of the sex of the disruptive student.
Not surprised
October 09, 2009
This is just a kid being a kid: selfish, self-aggrandizing, and unappreciative of those who have his (and others') best interest at heart. Why would he not be, though? Look at what he's getting out of it. Now the whole world can be "in love" with him.
Donnie Henry
October 09, 2009
I see this as a desperate cry for attention the guy doesn't have anything wrong with him. Go down to Little 5 Points and you will see tons of people like him. Although i do agree with the school that he does need to do something, cause that is wrong of John to disrupt the school with his dress. If he wants to dress like a female let him, let him make his own decisions. All i say is that when he is in school to (like Dillon said)to tone it down.
Give me a break!
October 09, 2009
Hey MDJ, you media types giving people like this print and airtime is only playing into their hand and making matters worse. Got any GOOD news?
Michelle Miller
October 09, 2009
All you people complaining about 'inappropriate dress', Until you start complaining about the girls wearing pants, cork it.

Dude shouldn't be using the ladies' room though, but the problem here isn't his heels & wig, it's the intolerance and bigotry that the other students have responded with.
Say What
October 08, 2009
Is his 15 minutes of fame up yet. All he is trying to do is make a county look bad and get his name out there so he can be on TV in a bigger spotlight. Way to go MDJ you put him one step closer.
Lack of Discipline
October 08, 2009
This is a desperate cry for attention. There are definitely some psychological issues wrong with this CHILD. There is nothing wrong with being gay but, stirring up trouble is giving the gay population a bad name and doesn't help their cause.

It sounds like he has never had any kind of discipline. Why doesn't he just get GED online? Education is the furthest thing from his mind. California is for you......
October 08, 2009
I found out long ago that being different is not always good. Unless he has Michael Jackson's talent or money he will struggle. Good luck John Mark Karr.
October 08, 2009
Well, to all of you people who are saying that this kid needs to go back to Miami and conform to the rules need remember that we are in THE 21ST CENTURY! Yeah, we're in the south but isn't our government all about Change? Jonathan shouldn't have to change for you people talking crap about him, or the school district. This boy IS reality. He's showing himself, as himself, and nothing but himself. The county asked for Originality, we'll Escobar brought it to you. By the way, I go to North Cobb, and I'm not just some uneducated punk, I'm in the magnet program learning about current issues. You guys are all "just secretly in love" with him, don't hide it.

October 08, 2009
Can you not see that this child is wanting attention? Who cares of he is gay; he was using the girls bathroom for God sake! Just read wht he said.. " the football team noticed me & I think they were all in love with me". This boy needs help. If he chooses to dress like this, do it after school. The administrators were trying to help this boy out by telling him to tone down his dress preference. If you let him dress like this, then you have to throw out the dress code completely. Let the boy go to art school & express himself there; he will be welcomed with open arms, but in public school, there are rules & should be followed. Try going to a private school & see what happens; he won't make through the front door!!
October 08, 2009
This is completely ridiculous. This kid obviously doesn't care about his own "education"-nor anyone else's. Seems he had problems with the "education" in Miami as well. What a great example of hard-hitting, investigative journalism. It must be a slow news day.
Cobb Resident
October 08, 2009
I moved here 2 years ago from NYC. I am all about personal freedom. However, Jonathan needs to get it in his noggin that his freedom ends where others' begin. Besides, the school administrators has done an admirable job at accomodating him as they create an environment conducive for learning for all students. A classroom is way different than red carpet.
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