(NaturalNews) After surviving leukemia and grueling chemotherapy, Michigan teen J. T. Gaskins decided to grow out his hair to donate it to Locks of Love for fellow cancer patients. Instead of being praised for his generosity, he has been suspended from high school for violating its strict dress code.
Gaskins was inspired to give back by donating to Locks of Love when he saw a family friend also battling cancer. When 17-year-old Gaskins' hair became more than just couple inches long - well short of the 10 inches he needs to donate to Locks of Love - school officials gave him an ultimatum: cut your hair or get suspended from school.
At Madison Academy near Flint, Michigan, there is no room for flexibility in their rules about hair. Their policy requires that all boys keep their hair "off the collar, off the ears and out of the eyes." Ponytails are also forbidden.
The fight to live becomes the fight to give
Gaskins was diagnosed with leukemia when he was only eight weeks old. In 2003, with five years of chemotherapy under his belt, Gaskins was finally able to celebrate being cancer-free.
After a battle like that, Gaskins has no intention of giving up this fight. He says, "I fought cancer my entire life. I'm going to keep fighting this. I want to give back. I'm not going to not give back just because my school says no."
Gaskins' mother Christa Plante stands behind her son's choice. "He's celebrating his life and now he wants to give back so that other kids can have an opportunity to celebrate theirs, too," she says.
Plante started a petition on Change.org that asks Madison Academy school officials to make a small exception to their rules in the case of hair donations.
"We are simply asking for a compromise and to allow not only my son, but anyone wanting to donate to be allowed to do so, to allow the boys the same right and freedoms as the girl students," Plante writes in her petition.
Many agree that Madison Academy's current policy is discriminatory because any girl in the school would be allowed to grow out her hair for charity, but the school prohibits Gaskins from doing so because he is a boy.
In the meantime? Plante says her son is not getting a free ride. Gaskins gets up early during the week to do his school work at home, and he is not allowed to watch TV or use his cell phone during normal school hours.
About the author: Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welcome.html
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