J.T. Gaskins, a 17-year-old leukemia survivor, told reporters that he had decided over the holidays to grow his hair and donate it to Locks of Love after learning that the sister of a family friend had cancer.
Locks of Love describes itself as a “a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.”
Madison Academy in Burton however ruled last week that Gaskins’ hairstyle is violating school policy and suspended him. According to the school, boys’ hair must be “clean, neat, free of unnatural or distracting colors, off the collar, off the ears and out of the eyes.”
“I fought cancer my entire life. I’m going to keep fighting this,” Gaskin told the Times. “I’m not going to not give back just because my school says no.”
Gaskins’ mother, Christa Plante, says she supports her son’s effort “100%” and launched a petition on Change.org asking the school to amend its hair policy for boys to allow them to grow it for charity donation. By Friday, more than 1,000 people had signed it.
Lauren Kukkamaa, communications director for Locks of Love, told the paper that the organization has heard of other issues arising over hair donations in schools and workplaces because of regulations and policies.
“There are so many ways to support Locks of Love, and we are truly grateful for all of those efforts and this young man and his desire to give back,” Kukkamaa said. “But certainly, we understand the school has its reasons for having certain policies in place.”