The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a suit in federal court last week alleging that an Indiana teenager’s First Amendment right was violated when a bracelet she wore in support of her mother was confiscated by the school’s assistant principal.
The offending bracelet read “I (heart) boobies” and was a gift to the teen from her mother, a breast cancer survivor. The bracelet is sold by a nonprofit organization called Keep A Breast and according to their website, “100 percent of the net proceeds from the wholesale sale of all items are donated to the Keep A Breast Foundation” which seeks “to help eradicate breast cancer by exposing young people to methods of prevention, early detection and support.”
This is not the first time that these bracelets have been flagged by school officials. There are reports of the bracelets being confiscated and banned around the country, presumably due to their sexually suggestive and obscene nature. The ACLU is fighting back, filing suits on behalf of students who feel their rights have been violated.
I learned about this case from an article on The Stir written by Deborah Cruz who had this to say in defense of the decision to ban the bracelets:
I am not opposed to supporting breast cancer research but if we allow this girl to wear her bracelet to school, then we have to allow any teen boy who wants to wear a shirt that says “I Heart Boobies” to school, as well. Then where does it stop?
Can children wear bracelets that say “I HEART tits”? Or perhaps, in support of testicular cancer research we allow kids to wear shirts and bracelets that are inscribed with the saying, “I HEART BALLS!”
First of all, I find it highly unlikely that you are going to convince a gaggle of teenagers, male or female, to wear apparel that reads “I HEART BALLS!” Second, can we all just lighten up? The declaration of a love for “boobies” is not going to single-handedly send the youth of America into a downward moral spiral from the likes of which they can never recover.
The teenage boy sitting next to a classmate wearing one of these bracelets is not going to fail his math exam because he cannot peel his eyes away from a slang term for breasts printed on plastic, he’s going to fail because solving for X is boring and he has parents that are spending too much energy attempting to control his hormones and not enough ensuring he is completing his homework.
What the Keep A Breast Foundation has done is brilliant. They’ve found a way to raise awareness for a cause that appeals to the humor of adults and teenagers alike. The result is increased funding for the prevention of cancer and a product over which we can all have a chuckle.
Everything does not have to be sexualizing our children. Lighten up, people.
What do you think? Should these bracelets be banned from schools?