The popular bracelet from the Keep A Breast Foundation managed to get two Easton Area Middle School students suspended in 2010 and now students’ right to wear “I (heart) Boobies” wristbands at school has gone all the way to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Not long after Kayla Martinez and Brianna Hawk received their suspension, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Easton Area School District in an attempt to reverse the ban and expunge the suspensions from the two students’ records. U.S. District Judge Mary McLaughlin eventually ruled against the ban on the basis that it violated student’s constitutional rights.
ACLU attorney Mary Catherine Roper told The Express-Times, “A student’s freedom to speak — especially about something as important as breast cancer awareness — cannot be shut down because the student chooses words the school administrator would not choose.”
The school district later filed an appeal in April 2011. That case began this week in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
The two students, along with the ACLU, maintain that their freedom of speech was violated, while school district still classifies Keep A Breast slogan as vulgar and inappropriate and in violation of the district’s dress code. “Everybody understands this is about breast cancer,” said Mary Catherine Roper, who argued for the ACLU. “There is nothing sexual about breast cancer.”
The case has gained widespread support from 17 organizations– including the Philadelphia Women’s Center and Pennsylvania NOW– that all filed amicus curiae motions to provide insight and testimony in the case. Frank LoMonte, of the Student Press Law Center, one of the organizations supporting the students, had said, “A word used in advancing a social cause — on a bracelet that everyone understands is meant to convey support for a social cause — must be understood in its context, just as a student writing a newspaper article about guns is doing something very different than a student threatening to bring guns to school.”
School administrators in Easton seem to disavow this logic, however, stating that the wristbands are “cause-based marketing energized by sexual double-entendres” in a school that’s already “…a witch’s brew of hormones and curiosity,” according to district solicitor John Freund.
Source: ABC 6, Lehigh Valley Live