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Bans on Sunscreens in Schools

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If you read the newspapers this summer, you probably came across a story about two sisters that went to the hospital for sunburns after they were forbidden to apply sunscreen at school. Does your school have a ban on sunscreens? Most likely they do as California is the only state to allow sunscreen in school without a doctors notes. That means all 49 other states including Florida do not allow students to apply sunscreen at school!

Violet and Zoe Michener were at an outdoor school event when they reported feeling warm and burning. Violet told TODAY that she was playing games with her friends when she felt herself burning up. By the time they got home that afternoon, their mom noted welts on their bodies with severe swelling. She noted such severe burns on Zoe’s shoulders that she whisked the girls immediately to the hospital.

Schools state that there are multiple reasons why students cannot apply sunscreen in school. The states often ban sunscreens due to risks of additives in lotions and sunscreens that may cause allergic reactions. The schools also state that the FDA regulates sunscreen as an over the counter drug. There are also fears about having adults apply sunscreen to children. In Maryland this past summer, camp staff members were forbidden from applying lotion on campers unless there was a note from the parents due to fears adults would get in trouble for inappropriate touching. Beyond sunscreens, schools also may forbid hats from being worn in school. This is another common policy in many schools due to hats being signs of gang affiliation.

Many parents are fighting back and working with programs to build sunshades over playgrounds, speaking out at PTAs to rally parents to fight the regulations and fighting to protect their children’s skin. Check out some programs to get involved!

Coolibar Kids School Program

American Academy of Dermatology Shade Structure Grant Program

Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation