Breast Cancer Awareness Headband Causes Controversy

A Bel Air Middle School student says he was told he couldn't wear a headband to school.

A young Bel Air boy is at a loss after his efforts to show support for breast cancer awareness were deemed inappropriate by his school.

Samuel Queen posted a message on the Bel Air Patch Facebook page explaining his desire to wear a pink headband to Bel Air Middle School in honor of breast cancer awareness month.

The letter states the student was told the headband violated school policy because it didn't hold his hair down.

Teri Kranefeld, manager of communication for Harford County Public Schools, said she was not aware of the incident, but said any items that distract from smooth school operations can be prohibited at the discretion of the school administration.

The school system's policy on head wear states, "Head wear, including, but not limited to, hats, visors, doo rags, sweatbands, and bandannas, is not to be worn inside school buildings during the school day."

The following is the letter posted by Samuel Queen:

I am a middle school student attending Bel Air Middle School in Harford County, MD. Recently it has become the month of October. It is mostly known for its breast cancer awareness. I have a history with family when it comes to cancer in general. I have had 3 family members die of cancer, the first being diagnosed in 3rd grade.

I shaved my head bald in support of my Uncle who was diagnosed. Cancer is not a topic I take lightly. I purchased a pink, white, and black breast cancer head band to wear in school in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month. I also shaved my head once again to show support. On the first day wearing it i was told to take it off. Reasons being because I was a "guy" and had "no hair to hold down."

This made me upset. I told my parents about it and they told me to "drop the topic." But that is not what I wanted to do. I wanted to show support. The next day, I walked into school and asked my assistant principle if head bands were allowed in school. He told me no, and that it was a county wide rule that head bands were not aloud.

But girls wear head bands all the time at school. So why cant I? Just because I am a guy and have no hair? He then told me "Girls wear them to hold their hair down." he even said "A guy with long hair still could not wear a head band."

So this, from his words, has only been directed to guys. "I had a couple of guys at a previous school wear head bands that represented a gang." But girls can be in gangs too?

I had done some research and found no such rule limiting head bands from our school. One rule did state though that "Head wear, including, but not limited to, hats, visors, doo rags, sweatbands, and bandannas, is not to be worn inside school buildings during the school day." None of which had applied to what I was wearing. Now of course school rules can make you take something off if it is a distraction to class but that has not been brought up in discussion yet. What should I do?

Jake Q October 08, 2012 at 04:35 PM
First off, stop saying Sam couldn't write a letter. Understand that the young man is gifted and do not be surprised if he surpasses your educational expertise when you were the same age. The reason he was bringing the drama was because of the result.. look at all of the shares, posts, comments on this. HE IS GETTING HIS AWARENESS OUT THROUGH A SECONDHAND SOURCE. Also as for the school systems policies. He told me that he took the EXACT same headband into school and a female student was able to wear it without repercussion. So that now brings in an element of discrimination on the schools part. And seriously, stop saying my brother isn't capable of writing a letter. He is not a brainwashed follower like the rest of the simpleminded town. Question everything, if you can't do that for yourself than you don't respect yourself.
CB9678 October 08, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Was the girl able to wear it as a hair restraint?
Leslie Schildgen October 08, 2012 at 05:26 PM
CB9678 what is the significance of April 20th?
Jake Q October 08, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Whether is is a restraint or not is not valid with the HCPS policy. It still should have been a distraction in the class, if it was not a distraction with her but it was with my brother... He is being discriminated. He has written a letter to the superintendent with a message in it about the HCPS staff being aware of their own policies and enforcing them equally with a test for the teachers.
CB9678 October 08, 2012 at 07:40 PM
April 20th is a day that some in the pro-marijuana community of dubbed National Pot Smokers day. But I picked that to illustrate the salient point that otherwise we would be making exceptions for everything thus negating the rule. I am not agreeing with the rule but at what point to we draw the line if we allow this and then say no bandanas. The kid argues it is supporting a dead friend and it is fashioned like a headband. Again no one once told this kid he could not advocate for Breast Cancer. They simply said no headbands unless it is a functional hair restraint or is religious headware. To my knowledge it was neither. He knew this to be the case. Jake the fact that someone else did it and didn't get caught is akin to telling a police officer when you get pulled over for speeding that you where not the only one. Jake furthermore the policy allows for hair restraints which may or not of been the case with this young lady. You didn't tell me one way or the other. Your brother is not being descriminated against. Unless there is a special policy for him and no one has suggested that is the case!
Jake Q October 08, 2012 at 08:34 PM
So CB9678, the item was deemed a distraction, whether it is serving a purpose or not. The female student could have used a restraint that was not a distraction. Also, it was not until 4 days after the incident that he was told it was a distraction, he was told he could not wear it because he was a guy originialy. Where is the rebuttal to that? There is a problem within the HCPS system and I do not need you giving me reasons to support their wrong actions. And I am supportive of this situation getting attention because it still will always bring up his initial goal every time it is spoken of. The staff at Bel Air Middle should admit they are wrong and simply just apologize to Samuel. If they are going to have all students follow a defined definition of harassment with discrimination included in it, whether it is race, gender, or sexual orientation... The school should also be held to the same guidelines.
CB9678 October 09, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Jake. You spin a drasticlly different tale than that in the well articulated version above. We have many items which are appropriate for one one gender and not the other. A purse is an accessory that is carried by women in some cases. Schools have a no bag policy unless it is transparent. The exception is small purses. The female (whom I will assume had long hair and used it as a tieback which is permissable) could have used any number of hair restraint devices she used that one. That is OK. Is it possible that no adult noticed it? I am sure believe it or not all students are not inspected for dress code violations. Some times you get by and no one sees it. HCPS has a no cell phone policy in Middle Schools but I am sure I could walk into any middle school and find them on 40% of the students. Why are they "allowed" because no one notices them when they are off. The policy says NO Headwear. It provides some examples but clearly states not limited to. The individual did not have long hair and was not wearing it as a hair restraint it was against the rules.
Jake Q October 09, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Alright Mr. Superintendent. You probably know exactly what takes place in the schools. I can tell you right now that they do not have an understanding on their own policies or appropriate ways to handle them. Instead of using actual reasons they toss around BS that they don't think kids will catch it. Your own tax money pays these people. Maybe you could do some of your own research before directing me to the "Rules and Policies" which take the first two days of class every year to read. Yet the ones enforcing them do not understand them. But please go on and tell me more of your vast knowledge. I can toss out examples all day long about the unfairness of the rules, lets take your purse thing. A guy cant carry around a backpack or a string bag but a girl can have a purse that holds the entire milky way in it and sit it on her desk while looking up answers on her phone during test. So I like your "oh they don't see it idea"and all... but you are far more than wrong and I feel insulted by your blind-eye views.
CB9678 October 09, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I am not the Superintedent, but I do know what takes place in schools, specifically with students of this age bracket. I work in one! Clearly I have an understanding of the policies I am tasked with enforcing. I tell you as a matter of fact teachers do not go looking for dresscode violations. We don't have time to. When they present themselves and become an issue we deal with them. I am aware my tax money does pay my own salary. I find it interesting your story differs greatly from your brother who was the actual "victim." I can also tell you enforcement of the purse rule at our school defines small purse as not being able to contain a planner book.
Jake Q October 09, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Well what are you doing on the patch right now if you should be working? Aren't there headband issues that need to be taken care of? How is there "not time" to look over the issues with the dress code and immoral decisions by the staff, but there is time to debate with a college student who is completely absent from this subject? The hole is getting dug deeper and deeper here. There needs to be education reformation within our whole country but it wouldn't hurt to start in Harford County. We stopped improving our school system and have focused on simplifying it. Yet we make the simple things complicated. Problems get tossed away but money still gets spent. On what though? I don't know but it still finds a way to disappear. The reason the current generation is so problematic is because the ones teaching them are too. There are good teachers and they care deeply for their kids, but there are also lifeless individuals who just simply don't care, that are called "teachers" to the children. The system that I have went through did very little to prepare me for the real world. Middle school felt more like a freedom-less concentration camp than a place of learning. And I do not need some textbook response. There are KNOWN problems that are just being ignored.
CB9678 October 09, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I post during lunch from my phone which rotates at differing times of different days! I Arrive 2 hours early every day so using my lunch time costs you nothing. Obviously we havee problems in the education system. Maybe you should rin for the board of ed to help fix them. This is not an issue. Since we have seemed to degrade to name calling I think our dialouge on this issue has ceased to be productive.
Jake Q October 09, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Oh for the sake of grammar! Okay. I enjoyed our fun times.
Leslie Schildgen October 10, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Annie: you raise a good point. However, I feel we should make an exception for the month of October and let kids wear breast cancer support headwear, footwear whateverwear to promote support and spark conversation for breast cancer. If others feel the need to support another cause and it's not hurting anyone, the school can deal with each petition case by case. I have no children and I want my portion of tax dollars that go to public schools in Bel Air to support Sam's right to wear headwear supporting breast cancer during the month of October. Care to take it to a judge and see what he or she has to say?
VolunteerMom2 October 11, 2012 at 03:21 PM
It's real simple. Just follow the rules of school. Headbands or sweatbands are not allowed, unless holding hair down. There's no need to make a big deal about a headband. Wear it as a neckless, get a pink t-shirt, get several different shirts to wear all week long, make a bracelet, wear it as a bracelet; just double it. Schools don't have time for all this debating. Simply follow rules set by the adults and school system. You are a child and need to learn respect for your school, adults and administrators. Believe me they have your best interest at heart. You can show your support in other ways and after school wear the headband. It is wonderful you show your support for your family, but be respectful and find other ways to show support that does work with the rules of your school. God Bless.
Jake Q October 11, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Your simpleminded, without question, conformity worries me about future generations. http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/clothing-dress-codes-uniforms Feel free to read through as much as you want. "school officials cannot censor student expression unless they can show that the clothing will disrupt the school environment. They contend that Tinker stands for the fundamental principle that students have the right to wear clothing with messages, just as the students in the 1960s could wear black armbands to protest the Vietnam War."
CB9678 October 11, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Jake, Do you agree that the school has the ability to not allow students to wear hats? Did anyone tell your brother he coud not support breast cancer? What if he did what Tinker did and wore it as an armband?
Leslie Schildgen October 11, 2012 at 08:26 PM
VolunteerMom2. How about the school rule that says pull your pants up around your waste. Lots of boys don't follow that rule and nothing is said but one kid wears a headband to support fighting against a deadly disease and all hell breaks loose.
Jake Q October 11, 2012 at 08:43 PM
When he was told to take it off. He was told he could not wear a headband because he is a male.
Leslie Schildgen October 11, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Yeah, Jake Q. Let's stick with the discrimination angle. What if Sam likes to wear headbands just like the girls do. Is the school assuming that only girls wear headbands. That's discriminatory.
Jake Q October 11, 2012 at 08:53 PM
That's what I have been preaching if you feel like reading all 70+ comments.
Christopher Kidwell October 11, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Agreed. The people who should be punished are the ones who make a big deal out of a headband. They are the ones who should be fired or removed from their positions. Getting tired of the 'gang colors' excuse for this as well. Let me be blunt; there are so many combinations of gang colors in America today that you would have to go naked to not be in violation of the laws against 'wearing gang colors'.
Christopher Kidwell October 11, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Dale Thomas, no, it hasn't 'worked for eons of time'. Fact is that gender roles 200 years ago+ were nowhere near as 'certain' as you seem to think they are.
Christopher Kidwell October 11, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Agreed. I would be seriously thinking of suing the school on First Amendment grounds over this and calling for the dismissal of the public officials who made such a big deal over this. It seems that a lot of public school officials are tin dictators who think that they have the right to do whatever the bleep they want. They don't. They are still limited by the Constitution like anyone else and the Bill of Rights DOES cover children, period and done with.
CB9678 October 12, 2012 at 12:45 AM
So you would agree that no one ever supressed his speech or told him he could not support Breast Cancer? The issue at that point is soley can you where headbands. You are claiming that no headbands unless worn as a hair restraint descriminates against males. That may be a legite arguement. As to those jumping on the lawsuit bandwagon. The next question is did his parents ever actually talk to the school administration?????
CB9678 October 12, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Lots of kids who don't follow it have plenty said to them they then pull them back down when no one is looking!
Jake Q October 12, 2012 at 04:52 AM
The act of saying the headband had to be removed was enough to show that his freedom of speech has been limited. His parents understand that Samuel is smart enough to shut down an adults argument based of their own rules and can turn the table (based on his older brothers time familiarizing himself with the same rules, in the same office), but has also been told by his superiors in the school that anything further on this situation will result in more trouble with the school.... thus you don't see Sam commenting on this (sounds like further limitation on his speech, but for current arguments sake lets put that besides the point).... Sam is in this situation as a kid with a small voice and no further guidance by anyone else. He knows it would be foolish on both his part and the schools part for this to reach a court situation. The best result that could come out of this would be the school swallowing their own pride and apologizing, as well as, the school working with the school's own student president (Sam Queen) on reviews of certain policies.
Leslie Schildgen October 12, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Do you have an attorney to file a complaint with the school
CB9678 October 13, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Jake did you read the abovee link in it's entirety???? It said dress codes are not a 1st ammendment violation based on a multitude of SCOTUS cases. The Obrien test being the one most frequently used.
Vincere October 18, 2012 at 07:13 PM
How about turning this into a positive event. Get the school on board with sponsoring a "Support Breast Cancer Awareness Day/Week" (SBCA) where eveyone gets to wear predetermined and school appropriate items. Have a fundraiser selling some SBCA items for kids to purchase and wear. Turn your lemon juice into lemonade!
tswiftyy<3 November 21, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Ha ha:) lol i go to bams and i lovee saying that! lol:) I know of sam and his story and i think our administration should look at the deeper message! This is bigger then a headband! I have read over that rule in our planners so many times, i just forget about it! But it doesnt apply to the situation, and we have so many bigger rules about guns and weapons that should be what our admin cares about more. not just some awesome headband!!!! Great job dude, keep it up <3333333


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