Another student who has chosen his hair as a way to show support for a loved one battling cancer has been banned from competing in school track meets. Michigan high schooler Mike Barker, 17, decided to dye his hair hot pink and shape it into a Mohawk as a way of supporting his mother Wendy Pawlicki, who is battling the disease. The teen was told during his meeting with one of the school staff that he could not keep the Mohawk because it violated school policy, and Barker then asked if it was possible to change the policy.
The teen was well aware that his decision to radically change his hair style would go against school appearance policies, but he is neither the first student nationwide to choose to do this nor has he been banned from attending school. He has been banned from attending sporting events as an athlete for the school by both his coach and his principal. Christopher Thomson, superintendent for West Iron County Public Schools, says while the schools in the district are staunch supporters of breast cancer awareness, a student’s appearance cannot interfere with the educational process. He also says that the athletic department will be working with the parents and the student to “resolve” the issue.
For her part, Pawlicki says she is outraged that her son was allowed to practice for weeks with the Mohawk and no one appeared to have a problem with the style until the teen chose to dye it pink. Pawlicki has fought breast cancer three times and is determined to support her son for his choices. After the teen was banned from competing in school track meets for his hairstyle, several of his friends showed up at the meet with similar hairstyles. None were allowed to compete at the meet.
Barker has been told he will be allowed to compete once he has shaved his head or his hair has returned to its natural color – generally a dark brown. Pawlicki says other students from other schools are showing their support for her teen son, and Barker says he is sending a petition around, seeking support for his cause. He hopes to eventually bring the petition to the school board and fight for the ability to maintain his Mohawk-styled hair. Barker intends on going out for the track team again next year, and the teen also plans on keeping his Mohawk.
Barker was asked to leave the bus that held the school’s track athletes as they were getting ready to leave for a competition. When Barker left, his friends Bryson Heimerl and Chasz Jonet followed suit, saying that the competition would not be the same without their friend.
The idea to grow his hair into a Mohawk apparently came from his mother, and Pawlicki says several family members have had cancer in addition to her own three-time fight with the disease. Barker says when he was given the choice to pick competing with the team or supporting his family, there was no question for him about what he would choose; his family won out.
The teen who was banned from competing in school track meets because of his pink Mohawk that he decided to wear in support of his mother is finding a groundswell of support for his cause. While he was banned from the school track meets, he has also competed in football and basketball with a Mohawk, though reports are unclear as to whether or not the teen’s hair was dyed pink at the time. Regardless, Barker is standing by his convictions.
By Christina St-Jean
GA Daily News
Upper Michigan Source