A civil liberties group is demanding a northwestern Colorado school district remove its ban on students wearing breast cancer awareness bracelets that have the word "boobies" on them.
Jordan Harmon, an eighth grader at Craig Middle School, was wearing a bracelet that read "I (heart) Boobies! Keep a Breast!" to express support for a close family friend who has undergone a double mastectomy in her battle against breast cancer. Soon after wearing the bracelet to school, Harmon was allegedly called into her vice principal's office and told not to wear the bracelet because the word "boobies" was offensive.
The ACLU of Colorado has since declared that the ban is a violation of students' First Amendment right to free expression.
ACLU staff attorney Rebecca T. Wallace said in a release:
Students, just like adults, are protected by the Constitution and have a right to express themselves, particularly when they are just silently and peacefully wearing bracelets to show their support for such an important cause. “I ♥ Boobies! Keep a Breast!” bracelets are distributed by the Keep-A-Breast Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help eradicate breast cancer by educating young people – in their own language – on methods of prevention, early detection, and support.
The Keep a Breast Foundation was founded in 2000 to attract young people and foster their awareness of breast cancer. Artists who have participated in Keep a Breast events include Katy Perry, Dita Von Teese, the Foo Fighters, and Tom DeLonge of the band Angels and Airwaves even serves on the advisory board.
On it's website, a note from the founders proudly exclaims:
The word abreast, means to stay up to date with the latest news and information. KAB strives to provide the latest news and information to young people about breast cancer prevention. Once you have the knowledge about what can pose a health risk, you will have the power to reduce your risk of breast cancer. For that reason we want you to Keep abreast.
KAB is adamant about encouraging young people to know their personal risk of getting breast cancer and teaching ways to prevent and lower their risk. By better equipping young people to adopt lifestyle choices that have long-term health benefits, can stay healthy and ultimately Keep their Breasts.
We love our name, it suits us.
The American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday it sent a letter to school administrators in Moffat County that said the ban violates students' right to free speech.
"Schools should be supporting such an innovative educational tool, rather than squelching students’ First Amendment expressions,” Wallace said. "As long as it is neither 'obscene' nor 'threatening,' a school may only
lawfully prohibit speech that would substantially disrupt the work of the school."
Moffat County school administrators didn't immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
Last month, after the ACLU challenged a similar policy in Pennsylvania, a federal judge ruled the bracelets were not disruptive to the school environment and rescinded the ban until the matter could go to trial.