A pink mohawk.
That’s how a Michigan high school athlete wanted to show support for his mother who is fighting breast cancer.
“My mom was wondering if I could do my mohawk with pink in it,” Mike Barker, 17, explained to the Iron Mountain Daily News. “I just didn’t have the time during football or basketball, so I promised her I would do it for track.”
West Iron County High School, however, wasn’t too impressed. According to Fox News, the teen was told by school officials that his haircut did not meet school grooming standards and, thus, prohibited him from a track meet Thursday.
“[My coach] told me I can’t have pink hair with Mohawk to support my mom with breast cancer,” the teen told Fox News. “I want this to change. That’s my goal.”
“They told me to cut my hair before the track meet,” Barker added to the Daily News. “That it was excessive.”
The 17-year-old refused. When a coach approached him on the bus before Thursday’s meet and instructed him to leave, he did — and some of his classmates joined him in solidarity.
“My friends said ‘we’ll leave too’,” Barker said. “They didn’t go to the meet either.”
The situation prompted principal Mike Beruitti to release a statement, saying the school would work to “resolve this issue.”
“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,” it said, according to Fox News. 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 statement continued. “The student was not dismissed from the team and we welcome his participation in the future.”
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter