Mike Barker, a 17 year old Michigan high school student has been banned from competing in his high school trek because he refuses to cut off his pink Mohawk in honor of his cancer stricken mother.
In fact, rather than give in to the school’s demands, the teen quit after being told that his new hair style did not meet with the school’s grooming and appearance policy.
Told the youth to FoxNews: ‘[My coach] told me I can’t have pink hair with Mohawk to support my mom with breast cancer,’
‘I want this to change. That’s my goal.’
Barker said the idea began when he and his mom were talking at the start of football season in the fall.
‘She said, ‘You know what you should do for me? You should dye your hair pink and make a Mohawk for me’,’
By the time basketball season came around, his hair was long enough for a Mohawk before dying it pink.
His mother, Wendy Pawlicki, said she was all the more outraged because her son had been to track practice for weeks with his Mohawk, but it was only when he dyed it pink that he was suddenly not allowed to compete.
West Iron County High School principal Mike Berutti released a statement about the incident, reiterating their regulations, which Barker confirmed he was aware of before he chose the hairstyle.
Read the statement: ‘The West Iron County Public Schools supports the needs of the students to express themselves, as long as their expression does not interfere with the educational process,’
‘We also strive to balance individualism of athletes with the concept of team that fit within our athletic code.
‘The athletic department is going to work with the student and parents to resolve this issue.
‘The student was not dismissed from the team and we welcome his participation in the future.
‘The athletic department has long supported breast cancer awareness by participating in numerous events involving student athletes and staff held in October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) and plan to continue to support this worthy cause.’
But Barker says it was,in fact, his principal, in addition to his track coach, who said it was shave his head or not compete in the track meet.
Since the controversy, a group of students have arrived at the track meet with similarly-styled pink Mohawks.
Barker, along with the other students who fashioned their hair after him, were not allowed to compete.
But making matters increasingly more awkward is the fact students from other schools are now supporting the student.
Told one student: ‘I’ll support him in whatever he’s doing,’
Mike Barker and his supporters have been circulating a support petition which he hopes to turn into the school board.
The student says he does not regret his decision, and is going to try for track again next year, again with a Mohawk. Assuming the school will back down? Or will Mike Barker back down?
Then again what’s in an appearance anyway and how much room should a student have in expressing their views and supporting their agendas? Or to put it another way as long as a student isn’t being disruptive how is it that their appearances, especially the color of their hair have anything to do with school spirit? Unless of course schools are there to install strict parameters of what passes muster…?