By Mike DeNardo, Jericka Duncan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Was the Easton (pa.) Middle School right to discipline two girls for wearing bracelets reading “I ♥ Boobies?”
A federal court said no, and now both sides have made their appellate arguments to all 14 judges of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in Philadelphia.
John Freund, attorney for the Easton Area School District, argued that in a middle school setting, “I ♥ Boobies” could have a sexual interpretation, so the school had a right to ban the bracelets.
“What we’re really talking about is some common sense and trying to keep a certain level of decorum in the educational setting,” Freund said.
“Both common sense and the first amendment say girls get to talk about their breast and their health,” said ACLU attorney Mary Catherine Roper.
Roper said the bracelets promoted breast cancer awareness, and that the district court was right to uphold the free speech rights of Brianna Hawk (below left) and Kayla Martinez (center).
“When you have girls who are talking about the importance of their own bodies, the importance of breast cancer, are you going to shut that down because there might be some boy somewhere giggling?” Roper (below right) asked.
“You should have a right to say what you want,” said Martinez.
The girls wore their colorful rubber bracelets to the hearing.
“I just think it’s good that me and Kayla are standing up for what we believe in,” said Brianna. “And ultimately, it’s going to be the judges’ decision, and we’ll just have to see what happens.”
The District is hoping the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reverses the injunction which would allow the district to ban certain bands.
“There are appropriate ways to express breast cancer awareness other than the I heart boobies bracelets,” said Angela DiVetro, principle of Easton Middle School.
DiVetro is a breast cancer survior. She wears a bracelet that reads “together we can make a difference.”
“”We had incidences where students were becoming physical. Boys were touching girls inappropriately. I stopped it. I banned it before it would go further,” said DiVetro as she explained her reasons for the ban on the “I ♥ Boobies” bracelets.
For now the bracelets are allowed. It could be months before the court makes a ruling.
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