A group of students cross-dressing as a senior prank at Westbury High School Thursday were warned by their principal that he would suspend them for two days if they didn't change the way they were dressed.

The students complied, but some are complaining the principal's edict was unfair and discriminatory, and the district is investigating the complaints.

Several students interviewed Thursday said about seven boys and at least 10 girls arrived at school in fashion more commonly seen on the opposite sex: The boys wore tank tops, dresses, skirts and Ugg boots. The girls wore baseball caps and baggy shorts or pants slung low to reveal boxer shorts.

Not long after the first bell, principal Manuel Arias announced on the school's public address system that cross-dressing students were to change clothes or they would be sent home and suspended, students said.

Nicholas Arevalo, 18, who came to school in skinny jeans and a tight tank top with a pink-and-black zebra print, said Arias confronted him and a classmate in a hallway.

"He said if we didn't take it off, that there was a chance that we might not go to prom," Arevalo said. "I really want to go to prom, so of course I took it off."

He changed into a black T-shirt, but kept on the skinny jeans. "I think we should have a choice in what we wear," he said.

A person in Arias' office said the principal had no comment.

Students said the boys changed their clothes, while girls pulled up their baggy pants to comply with the school dress code, which they said prohibits revealing clothes and the showing of underwear, but doesn't specifically prohibit cross-dressing.

A 17-year-old girl who came to school in a baseball cap and gray basketball shorts slung low over her brother's blue plaid boxers, said she took off the cap and pulled up her shorts at the instruction of a teacher.

It was hard to tell which girls were cross-dressing, she and other students said, because many regularly wear baggy shorts and pants.

Bianca Parker, 16, a sophomore who said she wanted to join in until the principal's warning, called the ban unfair.

"I dress kind of tomboyish," she said. "I usually wear baggy jeans. I wear hoodies. Everyone has their own expression. Today it made me feel like I can't be myself. It makes me feel discriminated against."

District spokeswoman Andrea Morale said superintendent Constance Clark-Snead will investigate complaints that the principal's threat of discipline was discriminatory.

School board member Larry Wornum said he supports the principal.

"Schools are not places of democracy," he said. "You cannot wear what you want. Mr. Arias has done a wonderful job."

But, Wornum added: "I think the children were great for trying to pull a prank."

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