A Texas teenager who is growing out his hair for his younger sister, who is losing her own locks to chemotherapy, has chosen to withdraw from school rather than accede to the school’s demands to cut it, CNN reports.
Newt Johnson, 16, is the older brother and best friend of 12-year-old Maggie Johnson, who has been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease for which she’s undergoing chemotherapy. The grueling process can cost the patient their hair, and indeed, Maggie has already reported that her tresses are falling out in clumps.
Newt decided that, if his sister can’t have her natural hair, she can have a wig made of human donor hair. And who better to donate that hair than Newt himself? The young lad decided to grow his hair so that, when it’s long enough, he can donate his own locks for a wig for Maggie.
“Some spots of my hair has came out, just like started falling out. [Newt’s] growing out his hair in case I need a wig,” Maggie said.
Unfortunately, that puts Newt up against the district policy at Poth Independent School District, whose handbook states that a boy’s hair must not extend “beyond the ear opening on the sides nor beyond the top of a dress shirt collar in the back.”
Not unexpectedly, once Newt’s hair exceeded the allowed length, school officials began asking him to cut it. Specifically, he was told before winter break that when he returned in January, he was to return with trimmed hair. He did not, and his mother was called to pick him up from school with instructions to take him for a haircut, on pain of discipline.
Poth ISD Superintendent Paula Renken said that Newt and his mother were offered an opportunity to discuss the district’s policies, and the dress code in particular. Renken says the parents declined.
Newt, for his part, decided to withdraw from school rather than obey the rules and get a haircut. Instead, he’ll use a homeschool curriculum until his hair reaches 14 inches long — the minimum length needed to donate to the charity Locks of Love, which makes wigs of donated human hair for chemotherapy and cancer patients.
“It really stressed me out because I already worried about my sister. It made me feel good that I could do something for her,” Newt said.
Newt’s father, Alan Johnson, says that sometimes tough decisions have to be made when you stand up for what’s right.
“Listen to your kids, if they really believe in something, even if it does go against the rules, sometimes you just have to dig deep [to] see if it’s really worth it or not. It’s worth it,” he said.