HS Student Punished for Dyeing Hair Pink in Support of Sick Friend

Beth Greenfield
·Senior Editor

Daniel Bradbury of the U.K. found himself in hot water at school when he showed up with pink hair — which he dyed to show support for a gravely ill pal. (Photo: Aaron Chown/SWNS)

A teenager who went to school with his hair dyed pink was disciplined on Friday — and his subtle fuchsia fringe wasn’t even a fashion statement, but a show of support for a friend who is battling a rare blood disease.

Daniel Bradbury, 15, of the U.K., is a student at the Fairfax School in the county of West Midlands. He is reportedly one of at least 30 people who have dyed their hair, shaved their heads, or written on their arms in pink makeup to help show public support for their friend Kallum Aish, 13, who is suffering from the rare aplastic anemia and undergoing a bone-marrow transplant, with his 11-year-old brother as the donor.

Daniel isn’t the only one to have been placed in “isolation” (similar to suspension) at school, though it’s not clear if all the teens attend the same academy. On a Facebook page that’s been created in support of Kallum, someone posted on Monday about a friend who had to go pick her daughter up at school. He reported, “They have made her stand outside reception since she got there this morning … all the other pupils who have dyed their hair have been isolated in a classroom … there were a few [who did this] to help show support, and the way they are treating her daughter is shocking and a disgrace … go team pink.”

The wide array of pink beauty touches in honor of Kallum Aish. (Photo: Facebook)

Daniel’s father, Dennis, told SWNS that he was “disgusted” by the school’s reaction to his son’s pink hair and that “it’s been done to raise awareness.” He added, “I’m livid. We’re talking about a few days, what difference would that make? Daniel hasn’t had a day off school in five years. Dyeing his hair isn’t going to harm his work, keeping him in isolation will.” The student’s mother, Michelle, said she called the school to explain why Daniel had dyed his hair but that “it didn’t do any good.”

This is not the first time school administrators have been unaccepting of students’ creative hairstyles — whether done for reasons of greater good or straight-up self-expression. In 2014, a Michigan teen was barred from competing in his school’s track meet because he had cut his hair into a Mohawk and dyed it pink in honor of his mother, a three-time breast-cancer survivor. That same year, a Colorado girl, 9, shaved her head in a brave show of support for her friend, who was undergoing chemotherapy for neuroblastoma; the school suspended her but let her return to classes following a massive public outcry.

More pink hair in honor of Kallum. (Photo: Facebook)

And within the past few months, hair-based controversies have occurred at middle schools in Georgia and Florida, where two girls faced suspension for having dyed their locks magenta and bright blue, respectively.

But anyone who remembers their teenage years should be aware that hair can serve as a hugely important statement and form of self-expression. “For the kids it’s really a wonderful way of testing out different looks — it’s about separating and individuating, and exploring different identities,” Connecticut-based teen and adolescent psychologist Barbara Greenberg tells Yahoo Beauty. “Teens feel they have so little control over anything because of what’s going on with their bodies and because they’re between childhood and adulthood. This is a type of expression that’s harmless, and it’s not permanent. This is an area where parents can really pick their battles.”

As for schools refusing to let “distracting” hair slide, Greenberg says, “Schools like to keep things as uniform and constant as possible. And they see the hair [in certain styles] as an act of rebellion. I don’t think it should be viewed that way at all.” But even if a hairstyle is meant to be a rebellious act, she says, “It’s a lot better than hurting someone else or getting into drugs — and at least the kids are going to school. You’re supposed to be distracting as a teen.”

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