MIDDLETON, Wis. -

A number of Middleton High School students defied a request from school officials not to cross-dress during a senior dress-up day, and it could cost one student attendance at graduation.

Superintendent Don Johnson said district officials heard and saw on social media on Monday that the seniors were planning on cross-dressing for a senior dress-up day on Wednesday. The dress-up day is a tradition dating back several years.

Johnson said school officials made an announcement to students asking them not to cross-dress on Wednesday because of the potential hurtfulness it could cause to gay, lesbian and transgender students in the school.

"The cross-dressing, I don’t believe, was ever intended to be discriminatory toward this group, but in effect it very well may have, and so we asked the seniors to say, ‘Let’s think about a way to celebrate that will not alienate or really impact in a negative way any of our student body," Johnson said.

About 20 students showed up for school Wednesday cross-dressed, and most complied when they were asked to change, according to Johnson.

“This morning when we had a few folks that came in with the cross-dressing we talked with them and said, ‘Look, we’re just asking for your cooperation, this is why,’” Johnson said. “Frankly this is kind of a teachable moment. This is a time when we can all think about how we treat each other and maybe think about some groups that are somewhat invisible in some of our schools.”

One student could face penalties for being less cooperative, which could include not being allowed to attend the graduation ceremony.