Henrik Theorin (45), headmaster at Hagaskolan in the northern Swedish city of Umeå wears nail polish and occasionally a dress to work in order to strike a blow for tolerance and equality, national broadcaster SVT reported.
"I want to show pupils that it's really okay for a guy to wear a dress if he wants to," Theorin told SVT.
By his own admission, this started when the school arranged its own Pride week.
"I believe it's important to show that you look exactly the way you feel like," Theorin said. While admitting he doesn't wear female dresses on a daily basis, he stressed that the idea is to show that norm-breaking is possible. "I don't believe a single pupil will approach me to say I look ugly," Theorin said, suggesting that his choice of wardrobe will provide food for thought.
Theorin has been also using nail polish at work for several years. In this case, inspiration came from Fredrik Plahn, a former headmaster at Trollbäcken and Tyresö. Plahn made national headlines in 2014, when he announced that he was walking around the kids with his nails painted all colours of the rainbow in order to 'challenge the hetero norm'. Today, Fredrik Plahn is headmaster in Botkyrka, which is celebrated as one of the most diverse places in Sweden, where immigrants constitute more than half of the population.
"I have only received positive reactions. People at school think it's great," Theorin said, admitting that he would prefer no reaction at all. He also added that his school works actively to promote 'different sets of norms' and devotes a lot of attention to 'values' in its classrooms.
Unwritten rules about how we should or shouldn't be dressed affect many people negatively, Theorin believes.
"Alas, we live within our standards, and people don't risk breaking them. A man should be 'manly', wear pants and shirt, as I usually do. These are older, cemented opinions, if you ask me," Theorin explained to the newspaper Expressen.
Lastly, Theorin expressed hoped that more pupils, regardless of their age, would dare to challenge themselves and the existing clothing standards for the sake of a more accepting and open society.
Theorin's stance has polarised Swedes; while many cheered Theorin's courage and unorthodox ways, others were repelled by the school spoon-feeding an agenda.
"Wishing my children had such a rector", "Male standards really need to be discussed in the view of murders among young people", and "Such a heavenly beautiful deed! What a wonderful change from cold, unengaged and preoccupied rectors of my school time" were some of the positive feedback on Facebook.
On the negative side, users ventured that 'male feminist' instantly rang a bell and griped over the school openly pushing the LGBT agenda.
"Imagine if a principal also challenged the norms by daring to invest in knowledge and competence," user Erik Gestrinus wrote in the comments fields of the Nyheter Idag news outlet.
"Put down the whole damn school system. It is nothing but a factory whose sole aim is to indoctrinate our children to fit into a fundamentally ill society," Urban Glinning wrote.
"What a sissy. He could have chosen a rose dress with lace and flounce. This here looks more like a badly sewn wetsuit," another user wryly commented on Theorin's choice of clothing.
"Sometimes I can understand Russia's ban on non-traditional sexual propaganda," Ian Nilsson wrote.