Cancer is something no one, let alone a child, should have to deal with. Having brain cancer at 17-years-old was traumatizing enough for Kate Pepper.
But it was even more traumatizing thanks to her high school.
Even in 2018 some school districts still go out of their way to enforce archaic dress codes that restrict the rights of students for the sake of decency and conformity, instead of focusing on providing the best possible education for students in a healthy atmosphere.
Pepper had been battling anaplastic astrocytoma for a year.
She was diagnosed in 2014 and beat it but her brain cancer returned about two months ago.
“I was feeling bad, but I wasn’t expecting it to be brain cancer again,” she told NBCDFW.com.
Pepper had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation a week before school started which caused her to lose her hair.
“I was feeling bad, but I wasn’t expecting it to be brain cancer again,” she said. “I found this wig. I got super excited when I put it on. I felt awesome. I feel awesome right now.”
But apparently, the school district didn’t think her wig was awesome. Instead of having compassion for their student and going out of their way to support her, they decided to make things even more difficult for her.
Pepper was told that her blue-black wig violated the district’s dress code.
Apparently, the district feels that “non-natural” hair color is “disruptive.”
But I’d imagine having cancer and losing your hair as a young woman is even more disruptive.
“I honestly just wanted to cry,” Pepper said.
Pepper’s parents wrote a letter to the principal and superintendent asking them to reconsider.
The heartless district refused and said the district was “not able to grant the ability to wear a wig with turquoise in it.”
A school staff member gave Pepper $65 to buy a new wig but Pepper refused out of principal.
“It’s really not about the money, It’s about the principle of you letting her wear the wig,” Tyliese Pepper, Pepper’s mom, said. “She’s fighting for her life. Why do we have to fight for this?”
Rules they couldn’t actually prove worked or made sense (such as colored hair being a distraction) took precedent for the district.
“While our hearts go out to these families we must also remain consistent in our implementation of the student handbook, including the student dress code,” the statement read. “The district has provided funds from a private donor to cover the cost of a new wig that meets dress code, and will continue to work with the family to reach a positive resolution,” a district spokesperson said.
The school district only decided to budge on their ruling after Pepper took to social media to tell her story.
Eventually, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick caught wind of the story and asked the district to make an exception for Pepper, according to CNN.
“I support clear rules for students but I am asking McKinney ISD to create an exception to their dress code and allow Kate Pepper to wear her beautiful wig,” he Tweeted.
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Many are glad that Pepper is now allowed to wear her wig. It’s still incredibly sad that the district had to cause her additional suffering while she’s fighting for her life and only decided to make an exception once they started getting flack after the issue went public.
Hopefully, school districts will start putting their students best interests ahead of silly rules that benefit no one.
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