Lance Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, is probably best credited for the plethora of rubber bracelets that adorn people’s wrists these days in the hope of showing support for or raising awareness of everything from Lance’s own cancer support foundation to Toyota’s hybrid vehicles. Most of the time, the bracelets are innocuous and easily ignored, but at a Silicon Valley middle school, one type is stirring up trouble. It turns out not everyone loves boobies.
The bracelets in question bear the slogans “I [heart] Boobies” and “Keep A Breast” and, of course, are linked to breast cancer prevention. According to the Keep A Breast Foundation‘s website, the group’s mission is to “help eradicate breast cancer by exposing young people to methods of prevention, early detection and support. Through art events, educational programs and fundraising efforts, we seek to increase breast cancer awareness among young people so they are better equipped to make choices and develop habits that will benefit their long-term health and well-being.”
The problem is that not everyone sees the humour in the “Boobies” message. 13-year-old Sarah Garaci hasn’t taken her bracelet off since receiving it as a Christmas gift last year but says that one teacher told her that “it was demeaning and offensive, and people were making fun of breast cancer.”
School administrators say that some boys were misinterpreting the bracelets and bothering girls who were wearing them, so they banned them. “I think,” said school board member Andrew Ratermann, “the makers of the bracelets chose intentionally to start a controversy because of the words they used.” Clearly, Mr. Ratermann and the other school officials don’t understand teenagers — if it’s not controversial and offensive, kids aren’t going to be interested and breast cancer is something they need to be interested in.
Given the importance of the subject matter and that problem kids will always find a reason to bother other kids, I think the school board and the school administrators might be better off directing the kids’ energy and passion in a positive way, rather than being negative and doing nothing but stirring up controversy where, in reality, none should exist.
Photo: Andrew Duffell