Teen Suspended Over Growing Hair for Charity

A Michigan teen has been suspended from his school for trying to grow his hair long enough to donate to cancer patients.

J.T. Gaskins is a 17-year-old cancer survivor living in Detroit. He has been forced to do his school work from home after officials at Madison Academy suspended him for growing his hair too long, according to the Detroit News.

He decided over the holidays that he would grow his hair out to eventually donate it to Locks of Love. Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to children suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis, according to locksoflove.org.

His made the decision after finding out the sister of a family friend had cancer. Gaskins, himself, has battled cancer since he was a baby. It has been in remission since he was 7, according to Yahoo News.

Gaskins has no plans on cutting his hair even though he was suspended from school. He is hoping that the board members at Madison Academy will reconsider their decision.

He is determined to give back.

"I fought cancer my entire life. I'm going to keep fighting this," Gaskins said. "I'm not going to not give back just because my school says no."

Gaskins is aiming to grow his hair to 10 inches in a ponytail for the donation. Right now, it's about 2-and-a-half inches. Madison Academy requires boys to wear their hair off the ears, collars and out of their eyes. They must also keep their hair neat, clean and free of unnatural colors.

Madison Academy has decided to keep their hair policy for now, according to The Associated Press. Vice President Will Kneer said that he asked Gaskins to use styling gel, braid his hair in cornrows or comb it to comply with the rules.

"I need his hair out of his eyes and off the collar," Kneer said. "I really want this boy back at school."

However, Gaskins has maintained that he won't get cornrow braids nor cut his hair until graduation, when he is scheduled for his last visit at a cancer clinic for a blood screening.

His mother, Christa Plante, said her son has benefited from assistance from charities for years and now he's ready to do his part. She is in full support of his decision.

"He's seen how it works and how it helped people, how it helped us," Plane told the Detroit News. "This is for him. He wants to do it now. This feels right."

Plante has launched an online petition on Change.org to ask Gaskin's school to change their hair policy for boys and allow them to grow their hair for charity. Gaskin says his battle isn't just about growing hair, but to allow kids to give back and raise awareness.

"I'm fighting for them to make it an option for kids to grow out their hair for Locks of Love, to make it a part of the school and raise awareness for all cancer charities out there that can help patients," Gaskins said. "It wouldn't be a change to where people find a loophole just to grow hair."