Free-Range Kids

Five Years After Girls' Severe Sunburn, Washington Considers Bill to Let Students Use Sunscreen Without Doctor's Note

It's like open carry, but for Coppertone.

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Sunblock
Alexander Shalamov

Apparently, it requires an act of bicameral legislation to even consider allowing children the teeniest modicum of self-sufficiency: in Washington State, the House just passed a bill that would allow students to use sunscreen at school without a doctor's note.

It's like open carry, but for Coppertone.

In an article titled, "Lawmakers consider allowing sunscreen in schools" by the Associated Press, the Tri-City Herald reports:

…The Democratic-controlled [House] unanimously passed the measure Monday and it now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate for concurrence.

Right now, students must have a prescription or note from a licensed health care professional to use over-the-counter sunscreen products while at school. According to The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, sunscreen is considered to be a medication because it is regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration and is categorized as a "sunscreen drug product."

Kudos for this push to restore sanity go to Jesse Michener, the Washington mom who in 2012 sent her daughters Violet, 11, and Zoe, 9, off to an all-day school event on a day that began as rainy (it's Washington, after all) but then turned so sunny it burnt her kids fiery red when school policy forbid them to apply sunscreen—even as teachers slathered in on themselves. The Huffington Post reports:

Michener told The Huffington Post that adults made comments about her kids burning, but because of the law, did nothing about it. She wrote on her blog, "one of my children remarked that their teacher used sunscreen in her presence and that it was 'just for her.' So, is this an issue of passive, inactive supervision? Where is the collective awareness for student safety?" At the very least, a hat might have protected the girls, but, "alas, hats are not allowed at school, even on field day."

Because, you know. Hats!

And all this is even though one of the daughters, Zoe, has a form of albinism that makes her especially sensitive to the sun.

Skin is just skin, but rules are rules. According to The Deseret News:

"Because so many additives in lotions and sunscreens cause allergic reaction in children, you have to really monitor that," said Dan Voelpel, Tacoma School District spokesman, in an ABC News article.

"When Michener pressed school officials on the ban, they told her that there is a state-wide policy that does not allow staff to apply sunscreen to students, and students can only apply it themselves if they have a doctor's note," according to the Today article. "The law exists because the additives in lotions and sunscreens can cause an allergic reaction in children…

Yeah, yeah. The good news is that Oregon, Texas, and California recently passed similar bills allowing for common sense, and sunscreen, to prevail.

Now if only we could get state legislatures to guarantee that other freedom—the freedom of kids to play outside without their parents risking arrest—we would really be getting somewhere.

NEXT: "It's Not the Job of the United States To Enforce The Geneva Conventions Unilaterally"

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  1. Sounds like the school was guilty of child endangerment!

    1. Maybe the teachers should get required to take parenting classes and put in some community service hours.

  2. We’re so close. Now is not the time to let up in the Global War on Gingers.

    1. We’ll win the war of attrition eventually.

      1. better Red than Dead!

  3. That which is not expressly permitted is forbidden.

    1. And sometimes, what is permitted is not allowed.

  4. Really? Not even suggesting the child should get in some shade, or maybe (gasp) go indoors?
    Five years? Progressives for you – – – –
    I hope California takes Oregon and Washington with them when the secede.

  5. “…So, is this an issue of passive, inactive supervision? “

    Stop it with the quips. Just what is it about “This Is a Nation Of Laws?” don’t you understand?

    Listen to the Trumpistas for a change. They know how well that bromide helps justify any sort of authoritarian abuse you can imagine, “As Long As The Right People Are In Power?” .

  6. Anyone here ever heard of a kid being allergic to sunscreen?

    1. No. But until recently I never heard of kids being allergic to peanuts and all the other crap they’re allergic to now either. Gosh, keep them bubbled up and look what happens.

      1. But until recently I never heard of kids being allergic to peanuts and all the other crap they’re allergic to now either.

        The hilarious part about all of this is that it all magically evaporates in the summer between 6th Grade and Jr. High. Once the majority of kids are in High School, eating lunch at school (and the school is liable for any allergies), everyone can fuck off with regard to their special needs.

        1. Just heard about it? Peanut allergies have been around for decades. And if high schools take less precautions it is not because the kids lost the allergy but that they gained enough maturity to 1-avoid the allergen even when it is not obvious and 2- use an epi-pen.

          1. And if high schools take less precautions it is not because the kids lost the allergy but that they gained enough maturity to 1-avoid the allergen even when it is not obvious and 2- use an epi-pen.

            So we agree. The issue is not whether kids are allergic or not and/or can recognize whether they’re eating hazardous foods or not but who is responsible and what liability they’ll be on the hook for should things go wrong.

            It’s well known that kids grow out of peanut and other allergies and epipens aren’t an effective or appropriate treatment for any/all allergies (such as the contact allergies suggested by the article).

            Kids in grade school can’t use sunscreen that was provided by their parents because reasons but kids in H.S. are free to buy aftershave, perfume, condoms, supplements, energy drinks, etc. and pass them among their peers at school. It’s only reasonable if you buy into *all* the paranoia and do so just the right way.

    2. I’m fairly certain it doesn’t exist. However it begs another question, anyone ever heard of a parent sending their kids to school with sunscreen that they were knowingly allergic to?

      1. Doctors would not prescribe epipens for nonexistent allergies, and you shouldnt be fairly certain of anything in medicine unless you have a medical degree.

        1. I have no medical degree. I am also fairly certain that if I am bitten by an irradiated spider that I will not gain spider themed super powers.

          The ball is now in your court Diagoras.

        2. …and your [diagonal] purpose here is?

        3. Doctors would not prescribe epipens for nonexistent allergies, and you shouldnt be fairly certain of anything in medicine unless you have a medical degree.

          Fuck off. You’re not a doctor and you’re having trouble keeping pace with tiered comments and the flow of normal conversation.

        4. And when a doctor tells you “Hey, you’re allergic to peanuts!”, then what? You sneer at peanut allergies. That’s a shit-attitude. I have a good friend who is guaranteed to upchuck upon the ingestion of even something cooked in peanut oil. Eating peanuts? Misery for him. And he’s not even close to one of the bad ones. Maybe you should consider learning about allergies before dismissing them, because right now you’re writing like a flaming douche.

          1. I have a good friend who is guaranteed to upchuck upon the ingestion of even something cooked in peanut oil. Eating peanuts?

            You’re not understanding. My absolute certainty that you’re a manipulative, lying fuckwad has nothing to do with whether ‘your good friend’ has peanut allergies or not.

            I’m no doctor, but if your friend eats peanuts and, subsequently vomits, he should stop eating peanuts whether he’s allergic to them or not. Even if the doctor says he’s not allergic and there’s nothing wrong with him, he’s going to have to decide for himself whether to eat peanuts again (or not).

            I’m not a vet, but if he vomits after drinking out of the toilet, he should stop that as well. If he goes out in the sun and gets sunburned, he should probably try some sunscreen. Most of us learn these sorts of things as children well before we get into public school.

  7. “Because so many additives in lotions and sunscreens cause allergic reaction in children, you have to really monitor that,” said Dan Voelpel, Tacoma School District spokesman

    I must’ve missed the part where Dan, the Teachers, or the Administrators were license dermatologists or allergists;

    C.O.: Rico, did you give the recruit permission to remove his helmet ?
    Rico: Sir, yes, sir. Breckinridge reported a helmet malfunction, and I asked him to show it to me, sir.
    C.O.: Are you rated to repair a M3 Tactical Helmet, Rico ?
    Rico: Sir, no, sir.
    C.O.: Then why did you order your man to remove his helmet during a live fire exercise ?
    Rico: Sir, I needed everyone in my squad operational, sir… I… I wanted to win, sir.
    C.O.: (sigh) You disobeyed safety regulation 21-404. You may, of course, demand trial by court martial.
    Rico: Sir, no, sir !
    C.O.: Do you freely admit to the charges made against you ?
    Rico: Sir… I guess I do, sir.

    IIRC, the punishment for dereliction in the line of duty was 10 lashes.

  8. For the record, Coppertone is a crappy sunscreen. Might as well rub cooking oil on your skin.

    1. Go on…….

      1. olive oil taste way better…

  9. How about a doctor’s note or even parent note if you know your kid does have an allergy, and a ban on lawsuits against schools if a kid has an allergic reaction and they werent told about the allergy. Peanut allergies are one thing, but nobody dies from eczema. It is fear of lawsuits driving this, most likely.

    1. and a ban on lawsuits against schools if a kid has an allergic reaction and they werent told about the allergy.

      I hope this made sense in your head. If they informed the school, they should sue. If they didn’t inform the school, their suit is pretty shaky. Either way, the state doesn’t know anything a priori without someone filing suit. At which point…

      It’s excessive stupidity, disinformation, and risk aversion driving this, most likely. There is no other reason for a fair-skinned person charged with the care and/or supervision of other fair-skinned individuals not to be aware of the risks cause-effect relationship between exposure and sunburn.

      1. The parents had every opportunity to apply sunscreen before the kids entered the school. The parents had every ability to insist with the school that due to medical reasons, a child with albinism, or hypersensitivity to UV, would need additional sunscreen during that day. It is extremely common for schools to have permission forms for this exact situation.

        The parents are the idiots here. The policies are designed to protect the schools from litigious parents.

        Your ignorance of the situation is sad, but typical.

  10. Proof once again that children are NOT safe at the gummit skewlz, Get them out. And keep them out.

    WIth idiocy like that governing their treatment, how can anyone be surprised at anything?

  11. My stupid state. The same stupid state that will provide a free abortion to my 14 year old daughter without informing me, but won’t let her bring an aspirin to school without a doctor’s note…

    1. Yep. Ain’t Olympia grand?

  12. Sunscreen is like marijuana, a gateway drug, only worse!

  13. The story must be an April’s fools joke. Why would anybody ever need sunscreen in Washington State?

    1. Because… Gingers!

  14. This whole thing is such an insane overreach by the government, it sounds like satire.

  15. Stupid click-bait article.

    The sole reason schools do not allow kids to use/handle any medication or over-the-counter treatments has absolutely nothing to do with the safety or use for the kid themselves. Its the issue of kids sharing it with others.

    When a kid enters the school, the teachers take on full responsibility for their well-being. But, they do not have the ability or staffing required to handhold ever single kid. So when Billy gives his sunscreen to Mindy and Mindy’s mom loses her shit because it wasn’t ‘organic’ or contained some ingredient rumored to cause cancer, the school has to deal with it and the teacher catches tons of grief. And if Mindy gets a rash and her mom lawyers up, heaven help the teacher’s career. Who needs that grief? It isn’t about overprotection or nannying the kids. It’s about avoiding liability issues.

    Blaming schools for this is moronic. Blame the idiotic parents.

    1. Blaming schools for this is moronic. Blame the idiotic parents.

      *It’s government, the idiocy we perpetrate together.*

      It shouldn’t require an advanced degree to, while putting sunscreen on yourself, recognize that the kids both needed and had sunscreen. If you don’t have the authority/ability to police kids, then how is/was this an issue? If you can confiscate and dispose of the sunscreen, you can *let* them put it on and then confiscate/dispose of it.

      There’s no reason not to assume that kids aren’t allergic to each other’s clothes, hairspray, toothpaste, gluesticks, crayons, glitter, etc., etc. At some point, teachers and admins have to be less than absolutely terrified to do their jobs and actually do them.

      I *know* the school allows kids to use/handle medication because there are plenty of medications who’s use, for various reasons, contravenes supervised administration.

      1. “At some point, teachers and admins have to be less than absolutely terrified to do their jobs and actually do them.”

        That is nonsense. They are not terrified to do their jobs. They are rightfully cautious about avoiding damage to their careers due to insane parents.

        “I *know* the school allows kids to use/handle medication because there are plenty of medications who’s use, for various reasons, contravenes supervised administration”

        The vast majority of school districts have blanket bans on all medication that isn’t specifically permitted and held by the school nurse during the day. Any medications that kids use in private is done in violation of the policy. I’m sure the school looks the other way as much as possible, because they don’t like these policies anymore than the parents. but they have every reason to protect themselves and their careers from litigious BS.

        1. Ugh. You have got to be a teacher / public school administrator or union rep. Very few people outside of government education have the combination of absolute stupidity, contempt for families, naked self-interest & disregard for child welfare that underlies the crazy points you are trying to make here. The school forces parents & children to overcome outrageous beaurocratic obstacles in order to have basic needs met, likely not informing the family of those obstacles until after the fact, resulting in injury to the child, and it’s the parents’ fault. This article is not click bait, it’s one of countless examples demonstrating that public schools in this country are so fundamentally broken that teachers & school admins will essentially *injure a child* rather than risk even the most remote chance of liability. This is in addition to other disgusting behavior on the part of schools, such as their insistence on the presence of armed police on school grounds to more rapidly incarcerate children for innocuous behavior such as the carrying of a pocket knife, possession of marijuana, roughhousing, etc. And who can forget the outlandishly politicized & often factually incorrect teaching materials & teaching practices that are designed to reinforce the ludicrous agenda of whatever authoritarian pack of crooks has managed to gerrymander themselves into the state or municipal government the schoolhouse is in.

  16. My kid is allergic to idiot school rules. Now what?

  17. “It’s like open carry, but for Coppertone.”
    They’ll be carrying small concealed tubes, just you wait.

  18. “It’s like open carry, but for Coppertone.”
    They’ll be carrying small concealed tubes, just you wait.

  19. “It’s like open carry, but for Coppertone.”
    They’ll be carrying small concealed tubes, just you wait.

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