A teenager who beat cancer twice as a child had to remove his survivor T-shirt after being told it violated his high school dress code.
Tyler Powers, 16, wore a purple American Cancer Society T-shirt to Ridgewood High School in New Port Richey, Florida this week.
The T-shirt has a logo on the front and the word ‘survivor’ printed on the back.
Powers said he was pulled out of class and told he couldn’t wear the T-shirt because the school’s dress code forbids logos that take up more than a quarter of the design.
‘I was doing my work; I was causing no disruption whatsoever,’ Powers told Today.
He had a choice between spending the day in in-school suspension or changing into a new T-shirt.
Powers picked the last option and wore a blue Ridgewood High School T-shirt instead.
Powers, who according to his father is the junior class president and has no discipline record, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of cancer that begins in the bone marrow, when he was 5 years old.
He beat the disease once aged 7, then relapsed. Powers survived cancer a second time and was cured by age 10.
His father, Tim Powers, told Today it was ‘disturbing’ that his son wouldn’t be allowed to wear his survivor T-shirt.
‘There’s nothing about the shirt that was demeaning or hateful. It’s a positive message,’ the father said.
Powers said he was disappointed by the school’s reaction.
‘They are saying they want to send a positive message through the dress code but having a good at spirit school and being able to wear what you want, that helps you in school,’ the teen told Inside Edition.
The school district said the teacher who told Powers he couldn’t wear the shirt didn’t see what was on it and didn’t know he had previously had cancer.
‘She never noticed what was on his shirt and he ever mentioned anything about being a cancer survivor,’ Pasco County Schools spokesperson Linda Cobbe told Today.
‘If he had said something, she would have listened empathetically and explained to him how the logo size limit applies to all shirts and that they can’t discriminate by allowing one student to wear a special shirt.’
The rule against large logos, Cobbe said, is part of a larger program that aims to improve discipline and academics.
School officials, she added, hope to prepare students for college and work environments in which they will be expected to follow dress codes.