Teen With Pink Mohawk To Support Mother With Breast Cancer Banned From School Track Meet
After finding out that his mom had breast cancer, West Iron County High School student Mike Barker decided to wear a pink mohawk to honor her fight with the disease. It is because of his pink mohawk that he was banned from competing in his school’s track meet.
Barker told FoxNews.com that his coach and the school principal told him his “new hair style did not meet the school’s grooming and appearance policy.”
“[My coach] told me I can’t have pink hair with Mohawk to support my mom with breast cancer,” said Barker. “I want this to change. That’s my goal.”
The West Iron County School District’s dress code prohibits fashion statements that are seen as a distraction, according to ForwardProgressives.
“They told me to go back in the office. They told me the same thing, ‘You gotta cut it off’; I told them no, they told me ‘well you can’t run then’, then I told them I quit,” Barker said.
Two of barker’s teammates, Bryson Heimerl and Chasz Jonet, have also quit the team after hearing about what happened.
“You don’t let somebody walk off and get treated like that and not support them,” Jonet said.
“It was an easy choice, a very, very easy choice to support Michael,” Heimerl said. “Without Michael and Chasz on the team, it’s just not the same.”
Barker’s choice to don a pink mohawk was his mother’s idea.
“She said, ‘You know what you should do for me? You should dye your hair pink and make a Mohawk for me,’” Barker said.
“I just didn’t have the time during football or basketball, so I promised her I would do it for track,” Barker told the Iron Mountain Daily News.
Wendy Pawlicki, Barker’s mother, says her son had been to practice with the mohawk for weeks and it was only when he dyed it pink that they would not allow him to compete in his sport.
In an email request for comment from FoxNews.com, West Iron County High School principal Mike Berutti emailed the following statement from the superintendent:
“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. “
Berutti also claims Barker was never told to shave his head.
Barker wholly disagrees, claiming his coach and the principal said he had to shave his head or not compete in the track meet.
Pawlicki said multiple students from her son’s school and neighboring towns have shown their support for him by wearing pink and dying their hair pink, too.
A Facebook group has emerged for Barker’s cause with over 1,500 members from across the country.
"I want to thank all those people who are supporting me and sharing the love," Barker said.
Pawlicki is proud of her son’s decision to not shave his head.
“I’ll support him in whatever he’s doing,” Pawlicki said.