In Harlingen Texas a young man with a family history of cancer was forbidden by school officials from growing his hair long enough to donate it to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients, despite girls being allowed to grow their hair as long as they like.
Gerardo Garcia, Jr., 16, said he hoped to grow his hair at least 10 inches for donation to Florida-based Locks of Love. The nonprofit organization uses donated ponytails to create custom-fitted hairpieces of children suffering from medical hair loss. They provided Harlingen South High School a letter verifying that Garcia had applied to be a donor.
He said he was motivated by a family history of cancer — his great-grandmother died from lymphoma, his grandmother had breast cancer and his 11-year-old brother had a lymph node removed last year and may have to undergo a biopsy.
But Harlingen school officials said they could not compromise their dress code, which forbids boys from having hair that covers their eyes or hangs below their shoulders.
Garcia said the policy amounted to sexual discrimination because girls can grow their hair as long as the like. The board was not swayed.
“Although we commend Gerry’s efforts and his cause, we must deny his appeal,” school board member Verna Young said Tuesday.
Superintendent Linda Wade said representatives from the American Cancer Society told her they would accept Garcia as their Harlingen High School South liaison.
Garcia told the Valley Morning Star in Tuesday’s editions that it wasn’t about money.
“They just can’t see that I want to make a difference,” he said. “There are already plenty of organizations that give money.