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School track team makes teen choose between sport and family

Mike Barker, a 17-year-old junior at a high school in Michigan, has been rocking a Mohawk for a few weeks now, and according to him, that was totally fine. Until he dyed it pink. 

Mike’s mom is dealing with breast cancer, Yahoo Shine reports, and one aunt died from the disease two years ago. He colored his hair pink based on a promise he made to his mother. But after he changed up the ‘do, school officials, including his track coach, offering him a choice: he could shave of the pink Mohawk or leave the team.

“I picked family,” Mike says of his choice to remove himself from the school track team. The great thing about the story is, several of Mike’s teammates have quit the team in solidarity.

The school in question says they will work with Mike and his family to resolve the issue, but this goes beyond one district. Last week, 9-year-old Kamryn Renfro of Colorado was told to leave school after she shaved her head to support her best friend, who was bald due to cancer treatments. Other similar controversies affected 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke, who was told to restyle her natural African American hair or face expulsion, as well as a 7-year-old girl who was censured for her dreadlocks.

Now, we’re not big on taking sides but…is this whole hair thing really that big of a deal? Must schools continue suspending and expelling students based on how they style their locks? Especially when the style is in support of a friend or family member?

Tell us what YOU think in the comments below.


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by Brittany Taylor | 2/1/2016
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