'Boobies' Bracelet Lawsuit Filed: Indiana Student Sues Over Breast Cancer Advocacy
An Indiana eighth grader has sued his school district after a superintendent told him that he could not wear an "I (Heart) Boobies" bracelet, part of a nationwide breast cancer awareness and fundraising campaign.
According to the Associated Press, the boy's father, Jeremy Glander, of Monticello, Ind., confronted the Twin Lakes School Corp. superintendent who, earlier this month, ordered Glander's son to turn his bracelet inside out because he said it violated the school's dress code.
The boy argues that other students at the school have been allowed to wear the bracelets without incident, according to the AP.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the student. Ken Falk, legal director of the state's ACLU chapter, argues that the bracelet " did not disrupt the educational environment."
"[T]he speech here, designed to assist in the fight against breast cancer, is not profane, indecent, lewd, vulgar, or offensive to school purposes and is therefore protected speech under the First Amendment," Falk said in a statement [PDF].
Last year, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that bracelets such as "I (Heart) Boobies!" cannot be banned by public school officials who find them offensive or sexually provocative. That decision has been appealed.
"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," U.S. Judge Mary McLaughlin ruled last April.
In Wisconsin, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb disagrees. This week, she chose to uphold a Sauk Prairie school's ban on the bracelets, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.
"It is reasonable for school officials to conclude that this phrase is vulgar and inconsistent with their goal of fostering respectful discourse by encouraging students to use 'correct anatomical terminology' for human body parts," Crabb said.
The bracelet campaign, launched by the Keep A Breast Foundation, benefits the Carol M. Baldwin Cancer Research Fund, which is named after actor Alec Baldwin's mother, a cancer survivor.