I read, with great interest, the story of the two Tacoma, Washington students who were sunburned during outdoor school activities because the school has a ban on applying sunscreen. I also read this piece with great horror and aggravation.

The school's ban is in place due to fears of an allergic reaction. I can understand that. But there must be exceptions. And there must be a doctor's note in order for the children to apply the lotion themselves; school officials are not allowed to do so. This is outrageous!

One of the children suffers from alibinism, making her extremely sun-sensitive. I think she understands that it's okay to apply sunscreen to her skin without a doctor's approval. She's probably been doing it all her life.

But, let's move past the sheer idiocy of this policy into a discussion of how dangerous it is. The ultra-violet rays of the sun are well-known to cause cancer in fair-skinned individuals. Sun lotions the world over prominently display the SPF level on the front of the bottle. It is absurd to not allow someone to protect themselves from potentially contracting a fatal illness.

My cousin, Michael, was a redhead with lots of freckles. He was born and raised in southwestern New Mexico, an area known for, among other things, desert-like conditions. The air is incredibly dry and the sun beats down like you wouldn't believe. I got a horrible sunburn one summer out in Belen, New Mexico because I was out in it for too long. But I got off lucky. Michael developed skin cancer and passed away in 1997. Yes, he should have been more careful. But the thing is, he had the OPPORTUNITY to be more careful.

To have a policy in place that prevents anyone--children, adults--from protecting themselves from the potentially harmful rays of the sun is wildly irresponsible.

Hopefully, no such directive exists anywhere in this area as we are in for quite a sweltering ride over the next few days.

Protect yourselves if you have to be out in this heat for long periods of time. And be thankful that you are ALLOWED to do so.