EASTON, Pa. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union wants an eastern Pennsylvania school district to rescind a ban on breast cancer awareness bracelets featuring the word “boobies,” saying it violates students’ free speech rights.
At least two Easton Area Middle School students received in-school suspensions in late October for wearing bracelets that say, “I (Heart) Boobies. Keep a Breast.” October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
School officials have told The Express-Times of Easton that the rubber jewelry is inappropriate, distracting and demeaning.
Mary Catherine Roper, an attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said while schools can ban lewd, lascivious, profane or indecent speech, the bracelets don’t fall under any of those categories.
“‘I (Heart) Boobies’ is silly, it’s funny, it’s irreverent, it’s juvenile — that’s why it attracts the attention of young teens,” Roper told The Associated Press. “This is not a four-letter word.”
School districts in Wyoming, Florida and California have run into similar disputes over the bracelets, which are sold by the California-based nonprofit Keep A Breast Foundation to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer organizations.
The Pennsylvania ACLU is representing two girls who were suspended last week and told they cannot attend their middle school dance later this month, Roper said.
The ACLU sent a letter to the Easton Area School District on Thursday asking to settle the issue without litigation. Roper said Easton is the second district in the state to get a letter from the ACLU about the bracelets, though she declined to identify the other one.
An Easton school official referred questions to the district solicitor, who did not immediately return the AP’s request for comment on Thursday.
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