My 10-year-old recently polled her classmates to see who wears “I Love Boobies” bracelets and why. She thinks the bracelets are silly and suspected that her classmates were wearing them simply because they are trendy and have the word “boobies” on them. As it turns out, she was only half right.
Most of the girls she polled said they wore “I Love Boobies” bracelets for the reason they were intended: To raise awareness of breast cancer. The boys, however, had a different story. With only one exception, they made no mention of breast cancer when asked about the bracelets. Instead, they mostly shrugged and said they wear them because they like them.
Regardless of the reasons kids are wearing the little rubber bracelets, many schools have decided they are inappropriate in the classroom and have banned them. But for a school in Easton, Pennsylvania, a boobies bracelet ban has landed them in court.
Two moms of Easton Area Middle School students have filed a free-speech lawsuit against the school district after their daughters got in trouble for wearing the bracelets. According to the suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, 12-year-old Kayla Martinez and her friend were both suspended and banned from school dances for a month for violating the school’s dress code policy, which was amended in October to prohibit the bracelets.
School officials say the ban was put in place because the bracelets were distracting, demeaning and made some students and teachers uncomfortable. In addition, the boobies bracelets were prompting some of the boys to make inappropriate comments.
The ACLU says that’s no reason to ban them.
The First Amendment does not allow schools to censor students’ speech merely because some students and teachers are offended by the non-vulgar educational message, and silencing the speakers because other students may react inappropriately would amount to a constitutionally impermissible heckler’s veto.
The ACLU lawsuit is asking the district to clear the girls’ disciplinary records and allow them to attend school functions. In addition, they want the “I Love Boobies” bracelet ban lifted.
As I wrote about earlier, I think these “I Love Boobies” bracelets have no place in school. While I know that some kids wear them because they sincerely want to raise awareness of this serious health issue, I don’t believe the bracelets accomplish that. What’s more, they give little boys something to laugh at and make little girls like my own – who is one of only a handful in her class who actually has boobies – feel uncomfortable.
I don’t want to pick on the boys here, but they are at an age where they are just learning about boundaries and what is and isn’t appropriate when it comes to relating to girls. I think a bracelet that prompts them to focus on and talk about their classmates’ breasts sends the wrong message. What do you think?