A girl with a rare ageing disease who put a wig on to make herself feel ”pretty” was told by teachers to take it off – because it broke the school dress code.
Ashanti Elliot Smith, 11, is one of only two people in the country who suffers from a debilitating condition that has left her trapped inside the body of a pensioner.
Terminally-ill Ashanti, who is not expected to reach 16, started to wear a wig to school to hide her bald head caused by alopecia, a side effect of Hutchinson Gildford Progeria.
She wanted to start wearing a wig to ”lift her spirits”, make her feel pretty and fit in with the other girls.
But she was left “heartbroken” and “humiliated” after a cruel teacher forced her to remove the pink wig – because it was the wrong colour.
A teacher ordered her to take it off because it might ”encourage” other pupils at Oakmeeds Community College, in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, to dye their hair too.
Angry mum Phoebe Smith, 29, of Burgess Hill, said: “It’s an absolute disgrace. She was completely devastated when the teacher told her to take the wig off.
“Of course nobody has naturally pink hair, but we feel that anything Ashanti can do to cheer herself up is brilliant, and should be encouraged.
“She already feels different to the other children and has had some mean comments – but when she was wearing the wig her friends said she looked lovely.
“They all know that Ashanti isn’t very well sometimes, but that won’t make them want to dye their hair.”
Phoebe added: “She was so proud of her hair but this has really knocked her for six.
She didn’t want to go to school the next day.
“It’s a pink wig, that’s it. Of course other children will understand. She’s not going to be around for much longer, so we want her to live each day as happy as she can.”
The incident is reported to have happened last Thursday at Oakmeeds Community College, a secondary school she started at in September.
West Sussex County Council was unable to comment on the matter as the school had not mentioned it to them.
A spokesman for the council added: “It appears to have been treated as an internal matter.”
Oakmeeds were unavailable for comment yesterday (Thurs).