UPDATE: Michael Jestes, a 12-year-old Highlands County boy who dyed his hair pink in support of breast cancer awareness month is once again being threatening with suspension.
Earlier this week, he had dyed his hair a bright shade of pink, along with his entire family, in support of two aunts who are currently battling breast cancer.
He'd already lost his grandmother to the disease.
Tuesday, Hill Gustat Middle School principal Chris Doty put him in in-school suspension and told him his pink hair was not acceptable..
His mother Jessica did as the principal ordered, and dyed his hair black.
But late today, his mother says the principal told the boy he could see the pink showing through the black as purple highlights, and if the color wasn't gone tomorrow, Michael would be suspended again.
We have calls out to the school board and are waiting for their reaction to the situation.
Millions of us are wearing pink to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But this show of support didn't go over well at one local school, and now a student is facing a tough decision: Stand for what he believes in or face a certain punishment.
It was a Highlands County student's pink hair. It had school officials seeing red, and his family is crying foul.
And it wasn't just Michael Jestes who dyed his hair pink. His entire family got all pinked out to show their support for relatives who are struggling with breast cancer right now.
Sounds like a nice gesture, right? So why was the 12-year-old placed suspended or in ISS?
Jestes' hot pink hair got him in hot water Tuesday.
"My son's having to suffer because he believes in a cause," said his mother, Jessica.
Michael Jestes said he wasn't off the school bus two seconds at Hill-Gustat Middle School in Sebring, when the bus monitor sent him to the principal's office. He said he wasn't given any time to explain why his hair was pink and was sent to in-school suspension, where he stayed for the rest of the day.
"I took maybe five steps and the teacher asked me, is this washable? I said no, and she said you need to go to the office," said Michael Jestes.
He told us his Principal, Chris Doty, took one look at his pink hair and got hot.
"He said, ‘Son, we're going to have some problems,'" said Michael Jestes.
"He talked down to us like we were bad parents because we dyed our kid's hair pink and pretty much wouldn't give us the time of day," said Michael's father, Jeffery.
On Saturday, the family was watching football and his mom Jessica explained to Michael why the players were wearing pink, supporting breast cancer awareness.
"And he comes to me and he says, ‘Well, mom, can I support breast cancer and dye my hair,' and I said sure. So we all participated," she said.
They've already lost one grandmother to the disease and have two aunts battling breast cancer right now.
"I don't see why he can't support something that's going through our family now," said his father.
The Highlands County school board was not available to speak with us on camera but released a statement that read, "Hill-Gustat Middle School's student dress code states that, "dying hair an unnatural color or an unusual hair style is distracting and therefore inappropriate for school."
However, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Principal Doty issued a statement at the beginning of the month saying students would be allowed to use the color pink in braids, hair highlights or ribbons, but did not include permission to dye the whole head pink.
"I have to completely shave my head, so there's absolutely no pink in my hair," said Michael Jestes. "If I shave my head, and it's still pink, even in one spot, I have to dye my hair black."
He told us there are plenty of female students who have multiple colors in their hair or have their hair dyed outrageous colors. His father also wondered about the "goth"-type kids who are at school, whose hair is dyed unnaturally black.
What's the difference?
"We're not going to have him lose a participation grade," said his father Jeffery Jestes. "He's got good grades already, A's and B's and one C, he's a good kid. He was walking through Walmart with my wife, old lady stopped him and looked at him and said, ‘What is wrong with your hair?'
"He said this is for a good cause. My two great aunts, they're battling breast cancer right now. My great grandmother died from breast cancer, so this is what I'm doing it for, and she was all for it."
He's torn. He'd keep his hair pink, but he also said his education is important to him.
So what do you think? Should Michael have his hair cut and colored before he goes back to school Tuesday? Or keep the hair pink and support breast cancer awareness?
His mother said she has no choice but to shave his head before sending him to class. She and Michael do not want to jeopardize his good grades by spending another day in suspension.
The school's dress code has been in-effect for the last 10 years.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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