Alopecia Universalis (AU) is a genetic disorder that causes an otherwise perfectly healthy person to become completely hairless. Yikes!!! Often these unfortunate individuals are born with some hair but lose it rather quickly, often thier fingernails and toenails as well. They must be careful as they have minimal natural protection from the light, sun and dust.
Dale Platts, 13, from the UK has AU. He's had it since he was 5 months old. You wouldn't think this would be too bad for a boy. At least he's not a girl, right. Except when you remember that he has no eyelashes, eyebrows, or nails. And then you remember how exceedingly cruel junior high kids can be. The very last thing on Earth one wants at thirteen, is to be different in any way, shape or form. Hairless is unthinkable.
Well, Dale makes it through the school day by wearing a ball cap. It keeps the sun out of his lashless eyes and covers his hairless head. It also helps him fit in.
This year, however, the powers that be at the Robert Pattinson School in the UK have called on the dress code to prohibit Dale from wearing his ball cap to school. The penalty for baseball cap wearing will be removal from class to be taught in isolation.
I am proud of Dale for standing up for his rights. The first day of school found his capped head bobbing through the halls. He was sent home.
Now I ask you, what would they have said to this boy if he had been battling childhood leukemia or some other form of cancer? If his hair loss was a temporary symptom of a larger battle for his life? Would it have mattered? Would the temporary nature of his condition have swayed the school to bend the dress code on his behalf?
A disability is a disability. And, yes, a rule is a rule. However, the intent of a dress code is two-fold: to minimize class disruption and to eliminate gang/group affiliations via clothing. Dale Platts is doing neither of these things. In fact, a case could be made that in wearing his ball cap he is, in fact, minimizing class disruptions that occur because of teasing, etc.
Sometimes people really discourage me. They just can't see the forest for the trees.