A Michigan high school student says he’s been forced to leave his track team simply because of his hair. Mike Barker, a 17-year-old junior at West Iron County High School, recently styled his hair into a bright pink Mohawk to support his mother, who is battling breast cancer. When authorities allegedly told him to choose between his hair, which violated school policy, and the team, Barker says, “I picked family."
Barker shares his story at length in a YouTube video shot by Michigan blogger Jason Asselin. In it, he explains that he explains that he decided last week to fulfill his promise to his mom to dye his Mohawk — which he’s allegedly had for weeks without consequence — to honor not only his mom’s cancer struggle, but also the struggles of two aunts, one of whom died two years ago. The student says that when various school officials, including his track coach, told him on Thursday that he needed to shave it off or leave the team, he chose the latter.