Teen Cancer Survivor Suspended From School for Donating Hair

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By Stacey Eldridge, Christian Post Contributor
February 1, 2012|11:32 am

Seventeen-year-old Michigan boy J.T. Gaskins has been suspended from school for breaking the dress-code policy, by growing out his hair to donate to "Locks of Love."

The Madison Academy student, a cancer survivor himself, was inspired to donate his hair after learning of a young family friend's battle with cancer.

At only 8 weeks old, Gaskins was diagnosed with Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a very high-risk form of childhood Leukemia. He has been in remission now since 2003.

"I really never thought we would be here," his mother Christa Plante told ABCNews.com. She was astonished when the Madison Academy school board in Flint Michigan, upheld their decision to suspend her son, telling ABC news she is "very much" concerned about him being excluded from a chunk of his final year of high school.

Plante started a petition on Change.org for supporters to send letters to her son's school, and it has so far gathered more than 45,000 signatures.

"Most teens want to do drugs. This teen wants to give back to his community and make a positive difference in someone else's life. But the adults paid to supervise his education are not smart enough to support that? Exactly who is supervising these kids and where are the schools morals and values," one supporter wrote.

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Plante believes that it is unfair that female students at Madison Academy are allowed to grow and donate their hair, yet boys cannot. "We're asking for an amendment to this policy, my son has now been kicked out of school, until he agrees to cut his hair, we are simply asking for compromise," she wrote on the petition.

Spokesperson for Locks of Love, Lauren Kukkamaa, says while they are "so appreciative of his wish to donate and his efforts, but we cannot interfere with the policies that are in place."

Kukkamma says that this situation is not isolated and that there have been other issues for donators in schools and workplaces with similar dress-code regulations.

"Truly this is one way to help, she says, but you don't have just give hair. We are a truly non-profit organization so raising and donating money also helps, and simply just spreading the word about our organization and visiting our website. We are however so grateful for his efforts."

In spite of the suspension, Gaskin has no plans to stop growing his hair. "I fought cancer my entire life. I'm going to keep fighting this," he told the Detroit News.

 

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