In a letter to school administrators sent today, the ACLU of Colorado demanded that the Moffat County School District rescind its ban against students wearing “I ♥ Boobies! Keep a Breast!” bracelets in support of breast cancer awareness. Although the bracelets had caused no disruption in school, the school district banned them because some school administrators found the word “boobies” to be offensive. The ACLU’s letter says that the ban is a clear violation of students’ First Amendment right to free expression.
ACLU staff attorney Rebecca T. Wallace said: “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.
Jordan Harmon, a Moffat County Middle School student upon whom the ACLU’s letter focuses, purchased and wore her “I ♥ Boobies! Keep a Breast!” bracelets in support of a close family friend who has fiercely battled the disease. After purchasing the bracelet, Jordan was inspired to visit the Keep-A-Breast Foundation website and learn more about breast cancer.
The school has forbidden Jordan, and other students, from wearing the bracelet.
“Jordan is a perfect example of the effectiveness of these bracelets in raising awareness about breast cancer among young people,” said Ms. Wallace. “Schools should be supporting such an innovative educational tool, rather than squelching students’ First Amendment expressions.”
Last month, at the request of ACLU lawyers, a federal court in Pennsylvania enjoined another school district’s ban of “I ♥ Boobies! Keep a Breast!” bracelets, finding that the bracelets did not significantly disrupt school activities, and that the word “boobies,” is not lewd, vulgar, or indecent in this cancer-fighting context. The ACLU’s letter states that a court battle with the Moffat County School District over this issue is likely to result in a finding – like in the Pennsylvania case – that the bracelet ban is an unconstitutional infringement on students’ First Amendment rights. “The Moffat County School District’s arbitrary ban of this single, selected, harmless word utilized to promote breast cancer awareness is constitutionally indefensible and is simply bad policy,” staff attorney Wallace said. “The ban must be rescinded.”
The ACLU has demanded that the Moffat County School District rescind its ban of the bracelets within one week.