Wisconsin middle schooler sues over "I Heart Boobies!" bracelets

Categories: Education
iheartboobiesbracelet.jpg
Schools across the country have banned the bracelets.
A Wisconsin eighth-grader is suing her principal and school district for the right to wear a somewhat silly bracelet that deals with a deadly serious topic.

Kaisey Jenkins, a student at Sauk Prairie Middle School in central Wisconsin, says the school has no right to stop her from wearing the "I Heart Boobies!" breast cancer awareness bracelets that have become ubiquitous in American schools. So Jenkins and her mom, Caran Braun, filed suit yesterday, claiming that forcing the student to ditch her bracelets is a violation of her First Amendment rights.

Jenkins' suit alleges that "dozens, if not hundreds" of Sauk Prairie students wore the bracelets during last school year, before Principal Ted Harter announced at a school assembly that the bracelets violated the school's dress code, and were banned.

Eventually, Harter relented in a backhanded way, telling students they could wear the bracelets, but only if they were inside out, thereby hiding the "I Heart Boobies!" message, Braun's lawsuit alleges.

ihartboobiesteeshirt.jpg
Keep A Breast Foundation
The bracelets are part of a larger "I Heart Boobies!" campaign.
The bracelets, a serious success among teens and tweens, are produced by the Keep A Breast Foundation -- note the coy play on words, even in the foundation's name -- which has marketed them specifically at teenagers. In its marketing, the Keep A Breast Foundation says the bracelets are a way to "speak to young people in their own voice about a subject that is often scary and taboo."

They were wildly successful at Jenkins's school, at least until Harter announced they were no longer allowed. Harter told the school assembly that the bracelets were a "distraction" that had offended teachers, and that both teachers and parents had complained the bracelets "trivialized the disease."

Moreover, according to the suit, the bracelets were simply in violation of the school's dress code, which bans profanity, suggestive writing, and innuendo:

"We looked at the bracelets," Harter said, "and there is a slang term. 'Boobies' is a slang term that we would not want students using in classroom discussion or teachers using in a classroom discussion."
The school's decision is hardly the first such episode. Last fall, schools in South Dakota and California banned the bracelets. But Jenkins does have some precedent on her side: In April, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that the bracelets were appropriate for school, with Judge Mary McLaughlin writing in her decision that the bracelets "can reasonably be viewed as speech designed to raise awareness of breast cancer and to reduce stigma associated with openly discussing breast health."

The Wisconsin suit describes a one-on-one meeting with Braun, arguing on her daughter's behalf, against Harter. Harter told Braun that students "have no First Amendment rights." He later backed off, saying they have only "very limited" rights.

The thing is, he's kind of right about that -- at least under the current U.S. Supreme Court. In its landmark 2007 ruling in Morse v. Fredrick, the Roberts court ruled that an Alaska high school had every right to punish a student who'd held up a sign reading, "BONG HiTS 4 JESUS" at a school event.

Jenkins's suit isn't seeking any actual damages, aside from attorney's and court filing fees; she just wants the right to wear the bracelets, which she says is protected under the First Amendment.

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18 comments
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IMHO
IMHO

Let's be real.... I work in a HS and it's mostly BOYS wearing them and they don't hide the fact that breast cancer is NOT why they're wearing them.  There are so many OTHER bracelets they can wear  ie.. the pink  "find a cure" ones... etc.  IF they truly want to show their support at school.  AFTER school they can wear whatever they want.... but I believe in school they need to accept restrictions just as they WILL have to deal with them in the REAL WORLD when they graduate!!

Karl
Karl

My 15 year old grandson wears one of those stupid things, and it has nothing to do with serious issues.  His girlfriend gave it to him.  I'm tired of looking at it.  Personally, I think it makes him look like an immature dimwit.

Albatross
Albatross

Excuse me, but "Boobies" are a nickname for Albatrosses, and I'm absolutely sure those bracelets were referring to me.

By the way, FUCK cancer. Thank you.

GEORGE WASHINGTON
GEORGE WASHINGTON

i live in the same area where a court in Pennsylvania gave the ok for the students to wear the braclets. the school district fought like hell to keep their ban enforced. the district lost that battle. the district wasted thousands and thousands of dollars fighting this . Now , after the judge said it is ok , the easton area school district vows to fight her ruling. so , the district is now on par to lose over 200,000 in leagal fees to fight this. makes no sense what so ever. -the district should focus on the fact that their math scoresand reading scoresare well below the median for public schools in Pa.  -this is also the same school district that gave students time off from school to participate in teachers union protests during the school day.

the student were carrying signs , that said.."dont fire my teacher" another sign read unions are for students and education,dont mess with their salaries and benifits. this is the same school district who gives their teachers off on election day and gave them off to go to harrisburg to protest cuts in public education.-bottom line, govt run schools need to focus on education..and that doesnt mean how to put condoms on bananas..

yes , this is the kind of great education Pa govt run schools provide the kids. -the same school district who endorses anti capitalism, anti business and promotes big govt, social engineering..-in fact go take a look the at NEA web site and click on their so called recommended reading for students and teachers...their number one book ...saul alinsky's rules for radicals...no lie...here is the info....-http://www.nea.org/home/37004....

Mark Brandenberger
Mark Brandenberger

As a school administrator, most of the problems you have on a day-to-day basis revolves around dress code.  Typically, the more you tell kids no, the harder they fight to wear something.  The novelty of pushing the line will grow old and fads changed.  When I was in Junior High, the boys had to tuck their shirts in and the girls didn't.  The boys all wore Sunday best one day.  I had taken off my sweater, thus pulling my undershirt out of my jeans.  I got two pops for that.  The squeaky wheel got the grease!

tattooed43
tattooed43

Such a small thing for the school to say yes, and such a big thing for this student to stand up for it.  Thats whats been missing in our country, people who stand up for whats right.  I would support my student 100% with something like this.

Poisonfrog
Poisonfrog

OK. A booby is also the name of a seabird in the genus "Sula." Just add the image of the blue-footed bobby to your bracelets; use IT as your message logo. Problem solved; no more slang word that seems to offend some thin-skinned teachers.

theJackal
theJackal

This continual obbsession of females and their breasts is getting ridiculous. A better example  of self centeredness and selfishness I can't fathom. These people are so obbssesed with losing their breasts that they wear jewlery and t-shirts, they put bumperstickers on their cars they have 5k road races everyday all accross the country. Get over your boobs ladies we have.

purplepenquin
purplepenquin

According to Morse v. Fredrick, one of the factors determining that "bong hits" could be suppressed is because the words could be "reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use." Not too sure if that would apply in this case.

uma
uma

my kid got that bracelet rule changed at her junior high WTG kay

novenator
novenator

This if for breast cancer awareness, the school admins need to lighten up and back off.

ludwigtr
ludwigtr

where does it stop?can i make a wristband that says I love assholes? for prostate awareness? or I heart Dick?  you have to draw a line, and this isn't about freedom of speech, it's about pushing a line to wear something that's moderately offensive to officials.  If it was about breast cancer awareness they'd be happy donating money and holding a fundraiser, but they're not.  It's nothing more than juvenile stupidity.  I know, I did it too when i was that age.  I fought authority and pushed the boundaries to see what would happen.

Isabella Moore10
Isabella Moore10

actually when buying the bracelets a portion of the money goes to breast cancer awareness fund

Singe
Singe

How dare we allow juvenile behavior from... um.. juveniles. Slang terms will corrupt their minds!

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