I Heart Boobies breast cancer bands spark suspensions

Collection of I (Heart) Boobies bracelets sold by the Keep A Breast foundation of Carlsbad, Calif. The bracelets are intended to promote breast cancer awareness.

“I Heart Boobies” bands are a popular way for students to express their support for breast cancer awareness. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Keep A Breast Foundation)

Kayla Martinez, 12, and Brianna Hawk, 13, wanted to show their support for breast cancer awareness. But as the Associated Press reports, their “I Heart Boobies” bracelets led to their suspension from Easton Area Middle School in Easton, Pa. This prompted the American Civil Liberties Union to aid the middle-schoolers in filing a free speech lawsuit against the school district.

Much ado about $4 ‘I Heart Boobies’ bracelets

The ACLU believes the “I Heart Boobies” lawsuit filed on behalf of Kayla Martinez and Brianna Hawk is the first such case in the nation regarding the breast cancer awareness product. Produced by the Keep A Breast Foundation of Carlsbad, Calif., “I Heart Boobies” rubber bracelets are extremely popular among students. School officials in Easton argue that the slogan invites inappropriate discussion and “trivializes a serious illness.” Currently, the bracelets are banned in many schools across the U.S.

A stringent dress code

Kayla and Brianna had their parents’ permission to wear the “I Heart Boobies” bracelets, but school authorities felt they posed too much of a distraction. After the school principal spoke with the girls, they agreed to wear the bands inside-out, which obscured the “I Heart Boobies” slogan but left a breast cancer awareness website URL exposed. Eventually, the school decided that even this ran afoul of the Easton Area Middle School dress code.

A dispute regarding vulgarity

The Easton school code apparently takes issue with the fact that the word “boobies” appears on the “I Heart Boobies” bracelets. The school had no problem with its teachers wearing Breast Cancer Awareness Month T-shirts to school during October. The word “breast” appeared on those T-shirts. As part of the free speech lawsuit, the ACLU plans to argue that “boobies” may be “silly and irreverent, but not lewd or indecent,” writes the AP. The ACLU will ask that the school district end the ban on “I Heart Boobies” bracelets and honor Kayla and Brianna’s First Amendment rights. In addition, the suit will request that the girls be allowed to attend all school functions and have the expulsion stricken from the scholastic record.


Newser/Associated Press

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