A charter school near Flint, Michigan is refusing to make an exception for a 17-year-old leukemia survivor who is growing out his hair to donate to other cancer patients.
Officials at Madison Academy in Burton suspended J.T. Gaskins over a week ago after they determined that his hairstyle violated the school’s policy.
At the age of 8 weeks old, Gaskins was diagnosed Infant Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. After years of chemotherapy, he was declared cancer free in 2003.
“I fought cancer my entire life; I’m going to keep fighting this,” he told The Detroit News. “I’m not going to not give back just because my school says no.”
Gaskins’ mother, Christa Plante, launched a petition on Change.org that had over 45,000 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.
“[J.T.] has decided to give back to commerate his Journey and success, and has decided now is the time, to give back, his decision is to grow his hair out and donate to other children and families battling the same fight he did,” she wrote.
“Female students can grow and donate their hair, yet boys cant not, we’re asking for an ammendment 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 and to allow not only my son, but anyone wanting to donate to be allowed to do so, to allow the boys the same rights and freedoms as the girl students.”