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School allows student with brain cancer to break dress code, wear turquoise wig

Elise Solé
Yahoo Lifestyle
Photo: Getty Images

A teen battling brain cancer has been allowed to break her school dress code and wear a turquoise-tinged wig to class.

On Sunday, McKinney Independent School District in Texas overturned its decision to bar 17-year-old Katilyn “Kate” Pepper, who is fighting brain cancer, from wearing a wig with turquoise highlights to conceal hair loss from medical treatments. 


SHE CAN WEAR THE WIG! If you missed this, Katilyn has been approved to wear her wig. This baby just turned 17, has just…

Posted by Line Black on Monday, August 27, 2018

A representative from McKinney High School did not return Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment on the move. However, according to Dallas-Fort Worth local news station KXAS-TV, the change of heart was made independently from public pressure, including by Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, that resulted from the viral story.

Patrick took to Facebook on Sunday to express his support for Pepper, writing, “I am asking McKinney ISD to create an exception to their dress code and allow Kate Pepper to wear her beautiful wig. I am a strong supporter of clear rules for school discipline for Texas students, but there are certain extraordinary circumstances that should create an exception to any rule and this is one of those times.”


I am asking McKinney ISD to create an exception to their dress code and allow Kate Pepper to wear her beautiful wig. I…

Posted by Dan Patrick on Sunday, August 26, 2018


I am very glad to hear McKinney ISD has made an exception for Kate so she can wear her turquoise wig during treatment. Let’s keep Kate in our prayers.

Posted by Dan Patrick on Monday, August 27, 2018

On June 25, 2014 — the same day her father died in 2001, according to a GoFundMe page established by her mother — Pepper was diagnosed with anaplastic astrocytoma, a rare malignant tumor that develops in the brain and spine. After radiation and chemotherapy, her cancer went into remission. However, an August 2018 MRI showed that the brain tumor had not only returned, it had spread. “I was feeling bad, but I wasn’t expecting it to be brain cancer again,” the high school senior told KXAS-TV. 

Treatments caused Pepper’s hair to fall out — one week before school — so she decided to go wig shopping and was thrilled to find a turquoise style. “I got superexcited when I had it on,” she told the news station. “I felt so awesome.”

However, on her first day back in class, Pepper was told that her wig defied the McKinney school dress code, which states, “non-natural colored hair that is considered to be disruptive (green, blue, purple, orange, etc.) is not permitted.”

“I honestly just wanted to cry,” Pepper told KXAS-TV. Her mother, Tyliece Pepper, appealed for an exception but was denied one. A letter from the school, which she shared with the news station, said: “I am not able to grant you the ability to wear a wig with turquoise.”

The school gave the family $65 to purchase a new wig, but as Tyliece told KXAS-TV, “It’s really not about the money.” 

Tyliece Pepper and her teen daughter, Kate. (Photo: gofundme.com)

Despite a statement sent to the news station detailing the need to “remain consistent in our implementation of the student handbook,” the school corrected course over the weekend, agreeing to a one-time exception for the 17-year-old. 

“…The verdict is in,” Tyliece wrote on Facebook Sunday. “Katilyn CAN wear the turquoise wig to school. God is great. Thank you!”

Neither Kate Pepper nor her mother has returned Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment.

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