Yesterday, under pressure from the ACLU, the Moffat County School District made public – through a post on its website – that students will now be permitted to wear “I ♥ Boobies! Keep a Breast!” bracelets at school without fear of reprisal. This announcement comes in response to a letter sent by the ACLU of Colorado last week demanding that the Moffat County School District rescind its illegal ban of the bracelets.
ACLU staff attorney Rebecca Wallace said: “We commend the Moffat County School District for taking quick and decisive action to restore the constitutional rights of its students.” Over the past week, the ACLU has received complaints from students and their families who report that the bracelets have been illegally banned within several other Colorado school districts. “We hope that other school districts will take a cue from Moffat County,” Wallace said. “Silencing student speech is not only unconstitutional, it’s also bad policy. Schools are charged with teaching young people how to be active participants in vibrant democracy, not policing thought and expression, particularly on an issue of such great social and health importance as breast cancer.”
In the ACLU’s letter to school administrators sent last week, demanding that the Moffat County rescind the bracelet ban, the ACLU stated that 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.