Grace Under Fire: 11-Year-Old Girl Banned From Using ChapStick At School For Her Bleeding Lips

ChapstickVirginia’s Augusta County school board is in deep deliberation this week after a request of an 11-year-old girl, Grace Karaffa, that she be allowed to circumvent a zero tolerance rule. What is the little demon trying to bring into Stuarts Draft Elementary School, you ask. Heroin? Crossbow? No, Grace wants to bring in ChapStick to keep her lips from bleeding. That’s right, the little Chaphead was caught red lipped in class by a teacher who confiscated the tube. Personally, I am thankful that one school is fighting chap heads who often use peer pressure to get other children to moisturize. ChapStick is a known gateway product to more dangerous products like hand lotion and Deep Pore Scrubs.


At the time of the confrontation, the teacher said that other children might be allergic. It appears that ChapStickitis is common in Augusta County. It appears that ChapStick exposure is a more serious health concern than exposure to bleeding lips.

I have long criticized zero tolerance policies that have led to suspensions and arrests of children (here, here and here and here and here). Here is a prior column on the subject (and here).Children have been suspended or expelled for drawing stick figures or wearing military hats or bringing Legos shaped like guns or even having Danish in the shape of a gun. Even a student who prevented another student from continuing to cut himself was suspended for taking possession of the razor and dispensing it.

In this case, Grace was just trying to keep her dry lips from bleeding. The elementary school backed up the teacher, of course, in another mindless application of zero tolerance. Grace however took her chapped lips and went to the school board. A board member questioning Grace on their proposal and expressed concern that ChapStick would be a distraction to other children (apparently more than bloody lips). Notably, Grace’s lips were bleeding at the time but that did not offer a mitigating circumstances. They are still studying the issue.

Notably, Grace’s lips were bleeding at the time but that did not offer a mitigating circumstances.

In the meantime, the Augusta County Schools Superintendent is standing by the fight against ChapStick, saying that it is a health concern:

“Health officials were concerned that the sharing of items like Chapstick, lip gloss and other lip balm products among elementary-aged students might well have been contributing to a serious infectious disease outbreak . . . The school division chose to control the use of these products not because of a concern that they are inherently dangerous, but out of a concern that they may have been a means for the transmission of disease.”

How about a rule that students cannot share ChapStick? The same risk would occur from sharing milk or cookies.

Grace however has attracted one big dog, Pfizer, to her side. The manufacturer of the lip balm insisted “ChapStick has been used safely by millions of consumers for more than one hundred years.” So where are the 100 ChapStick pushing, lawyer-warriors from Pfizer? That would have been one board meeting that I would have attended.

However, one board member is already warning the town of the implications of ChapStick in the knickerbockers of their children:

Source: USA Today and Fox

62 thoughts on “Grace Under Fire: 11-Year-Old Girl Banned From Using ChapStick At School For Her Bleeding Lips”

  1. Paul,
    I do remember some pet blessings, but I don’t remember them being done in Church. There is one church in a neighboring town that has a pet blessing, but I don’t know if they do it in the Church or outside.

    1. rafflaw – it is Oct 4, Feast of St. Francis and usually done outdoors. However, in inclement weather the animals and parishioners are invited indoors. Put the date on your calendar.

  2. Ari,
    That is a beautiful dog. In all of the Catholic churches that I have attended, I have never seen one allow any animal in.
    Annie,
    If eating dirt, especially as a child, was a benefit, I would be healthiest man on the planet! I do recall seeing some study years ago that living with a dog as a child provides some immunity to allergens as the child ages.

  3. Every time I read about teachers making dumb decisions I cringe. And a school board? What are we coming to? I wonder how students of that school feel walking in everyday. They probably go into robotic mode, since that’s the goal of educators these days.

  4. Barking Dog….that must be an individual parish prejudice about service dogs, not a Catholic Church policy per se. All of my dogs since 1990 have been inside my parishes, day and night, and one actually participated in services when children were the focus….that one was “Ari”, the dog in my avatar. He’d remain in the sacristy until called by th Priest to join him and the children on the altar platform. He was tough as nails and yet a prince among dogs with children.

    1. Aridog – there is some Catholic festival in which there is a personal blessing given to pets and livestock. Maybe St. Francis?

  5. I can see why people in AmeriKa home school their kids. I have a neighbor at the marina with five kids. We call them the FartinSmiths. Their last name is Smith and they all fart constantly. Not out from under the armpit like that one guy said up above in a comment but right out the rear end like a Fox News Commentator, fair and balanced. When the Smiths go to Mass people are likely to leave en mass. The priest wears a clothes pin over his nose to seal off the stink. So does my half blind guy who goes to the early mass when the FartinSmiths go because my half blind guy likes a quick service but he must go and he fells like he needs to be blessed. I stay out in the lobby because the Catholic Church is prejudiced and wont let a support dog into the church chapel. Tank Dog for that.

  6. OK, let´s assume someone is allergic to chapstick. Is the school the only place they could come into contact with it? Is school the only place you might have to look at a dad wearing a military uniform? What are they going to do later when they have a job and a customer is wearing chapstick or a military uniform? The girl needs to go get some bloodwork done; she may be low on iron.

  7. if the idiots that now teach children were really concerned with health and diseases they would demand answers to questions like

    1. with all this so called new technology how is it our ancestors outlive (s)(d) us by 10-20 yrs.

    2. how come there are no cures for cancer,aids,leukemia and such? (biggest lie of the industry)
    and the list goes on its truly amazing how we lived to be the ages we are considering how much danger we should have been in not riding with helmets, eating candy after it fell on the ground/ floor. germs all over the place from walking in mud playing in parks with other kids.woe is us

  8. Maybe Carmex would be allowed, the kind that comes in a little jar? It’s round, tastes yucky and can’t be pointed at anyone because it doesn’t resemble a gun in any imaginable way. It’s like thick Vicks Vapo Rub, who want want to eat that stuff? Seriously silly.

  9. I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance rules. They are a lazy person’s way of running any organization or school.

  10. DS: Self-fulfilling prophesy. Well played.

    SF: Thank you for the link to a rant, and subsequent remarks, from a bunch of bigots and racists. That was a fun read over lunch! =\

  11. Zero Tolerance is just another way of saying “we don’t want to have to be bothered making individual decisions, so we’ll just say that everything that is a perceived danger (or not), according to our poorly defined rules will result in punishment”.
    I agree; it’s amazing how any of us reached adulthood with all the threat around us.

  12. Oh, come on, don’t y’all get it? Think now “Chap” as in “that just chaps my as_.” Oooooh that could be associated with someone who is “angry,” and we all know how dangerous that might be! That’s not all though, the word “stick.” Kids could think of ….well you know….hitting someone with a “st- – -,” and then well, it could escalate to using something more dangerous!! OOOOH NO! We must have a no tolerance rule against that dangerous substance. So I hope you now understand the (twisted) logic of this school’s policy. It’s about thought germs.

  13. So the school board was worried the girl possessing Chapstick would cause a distraction. Well, the school board has certainly brought distraction to the school district two orders of magnitude greater. I fail to see the need to debate this by the board. Most people would think the school district is acting in a ridiculous manner. Yet, the board circles its wagons and wastes time on this issue.

    Had the school not thought pragmatically and considered that playgrounds cause disease from children interacting with each other in close quarters? Should they ban recess for health purposes?

    Actually public shaming seems to be one of the few effective tools to convince these types of organizations to behave like rational people. The girl’s appeal to reason before the board surely hasn’t provided an immediate return normality. Lawsuits take years and just cause them to dig in and fight. Demanding due process for the children is out of the question because if the school is going to be as draconian as this with Chapstick they certainly are not going to be reasonable overall.

    1. Darren – recess is not what it used to be. No more dodge-ball or other fun games to take the aggression out of little boys.

  14. Anybody want to comment on the possibility of blood born pathogens being freely transmitted from any number of objects that openly bleeding sores may come into contact with?

    What kind of IQ test do you have to FAIL to be eligible to run for School Board these days?

  15. It is a wonder that we oldsters survived childhood without the constant supervision of adults to remove such incredible hazards as pop tarts shaped vaguely like guns and toxins like chapstick from our grubby hands. We lived dangerously in those days!!! We rode our bikes without helmets or knee pads (OMG), stayed outside until dark, got called home for dinner. We played without adults watching our every move and…..we got scraped up, got minor hurts, learned not to fall down (cause and effect) and we had FUN!

    Seriously, they are worried about chapstick but NOT worried about the illegal alien children, ( who we have no idea where they actually have been inserted into the school system …it is a secret) spreading communicable diseases like TB, measles, and a “rare respiratory virus” common in places like Mexico and other parts of the world that suddenly/unexpectedly seems to be on the rise.

    Just a coincidence…right?. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/human-enterovirus-68-sickening-children-across-midwest-and-spread-could-worsen/

    So we don’t worry about real threats and concentrate on stupidity like contraband chapstick.

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