Michigan high school student J.T. Gaskins, a leukemia survivor, was recently singled out for perfect behavior. Now he’s suspended, caught up in a face-off with his school, Madison Academy, near Flint, Mich., for violating the dress code for boys as he grows out his locks for a cancer charity.
J.T. was inspired to grow his hair after learning that a friend’s sister had cancer. Once he’s got a 10-inch ponytail, he’ll be able to chop it off and donate the hair to Locks of Love, which makes wigs for people fighting cancer. So far, J.T.’s got just 2½ inches, so he’s got a ways to go. But Madison Academy says rules are rules: J.T. is running afoul of school policy, which calls for boys’ hair to be “off the collar, off the ears and out of the eyes.”
J.T. hopes his charter school’s board will think twice about the wisdom of suspending students motivated by a noble cause. And, for the record, he’s not backing down. “I fought cancer my entire life. I’m going to keep fighting this,” he told the Associated Press. “I’m not going to not give back just because my school says no.”
A petition on Change.org intended to sway the school’s administration and its board members had collected more than 3,100 signatures as of Sunday. It aims to create a “hair donation policy” that would make an exception for charitable reasons. Meanwhile, J.T.’s school suggested that he make liberal use of styling gel or perhaps rock a cornrow style in order to tame his ‘do.
But J.T.’s in no mood to start fussing with his coif. “I’m fine with all of their rules,” Gaskins told the AP. “I just think that with this, they could try to make a compromise.”