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Texas school board won't budge in long-hair dispute

By The Associated Press

Editor's note: Student Gerardo Garcia Jr. will be able to return to his high school after donating his long locks to a Florida-based organization that makes hairpieces for children who have lost their hair, The Associated Press reported on Jan. 3. Garcia had 10 inches of hair cut off and sent to Florida-based Locks of Love.

HARLINGEN, Texas — A Texas school board denied a student's request to grow long hair for a group that makes wigs for sick children, instead offering him the post of American Cancer Society liaison along with a $500 donation to the group in his name.

The $500 came from an anonymous donor in the amount that the hair would be worth.

Gerardo Garcia Jr., 16, said he hoped to grow his hair at least 10 inches for donation to Florida-based Locks of Love. The nonprofit organization uses donated ponytails to create custom-fitted hairpieces of children suffering from medical hair loss. The group provided Harlingen High School South a letter verifying that Garcia had applied to be a donor.

He said he was motivated by a family history of cancer — his great-grandmother died from lymphoma, his grandmother had breast cancer and his 11-year-old brother had a lymph node removed last year and may have to undergo a biopsy.

But Harlingen school officials said they could not compromise their dress code, which forbids boys from having hair that covers their eyes or hangs below their shoulders.

Garcia said the policy amounted to sexual discrimination because girls can grow their hair as long as they like. The board was not swayed.

"Although we commend Gerry's efforts and his cause, we must deny his appeal," school board member Verna Young said on Sept. 14.

Superintendent Linda Wade said representatives from the American Cancer Society told her they would accept Garcia as their Harlingen High School South liaison.

Garcia told the Valley Morning Star in its Sept. 14 editions that it wasn't about money.

"They just can't see that I want to make a difference," he said. "There are already plenty of organizations that give money."

The newspaper reported today that Garcia and his mother, Dawn Lozano, said they would appeal the school board's decision to the Texas Education Agency.

"We are going to keep fighting," the newspaper quoted Lozano as saying.

Grooming policy trips up Texas teen who wants to donate long locks
Gerardo Lozano Jr. is asking school board to intervene after officials at Harlingen High School South ordered him to cut his hair. 08.31.04

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