Posts Tagged ‘Freedom of speech’

Easton boobies bracelets –

Brianna Hawk, 13, and Kayla Martinez, 12, who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, sued the Easton School district after being threatened with suspension for refusing to remove the I love Boobies bracelets. They argue the district’s ban violates their First Amendment right to free speech.

ACLU attorney Mary Catherine Roper said the girls still face a threat of discipline if they lose their request for a preliminary injunction to lift the district’s ban on the bracelets and could be barred from attending a school dance this year. Roper said she expects McLaughlin to make a decision in the case in several weeks.

In a 11/2-hour hearing, Roper and Freund delved into decades’ worth of U.S. Supreme Court and circuit court decisions on student free speech and the right of school administrators to restrict it in the interest of maintaining order in the classroom.

Roper argued that the school district failed to show the ban on the “I ♥ Boobies!” bracelets was necessary and justifiable by establishing they had caused a disruption.

The principal of Easton Area Middle School testified in December that she banned the bracelets as a precaution. The district claims the bracelets led to inappropriate comments and touching, but testimony at the December hearing did not clearly link those incidents to the bracelets.

Justice Samuel Alito found an Alaska high school principal was justified in disciplining a student who displayed a banner with the message “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” during the 2002 Olympic torch relay because the message could reasonably be read as promoting illegal drug use.

Roper said that while people, middle school boys in particular, could sexualize the message “I ♥ Boobies!,” Hawk’s and Martinez’s testimony and behavior indicate they see the bracelets exclusively as a way to communicate a message about breast cancer awareness to their peers.

Freund argued that the Supreme Court has repeatedly found messages with a sexual or vulgar double entendre are inappropriate in a school setting and “I Boobies!” fits that description. He noted that some courts have allowed schools to ban clothing with a vulgar double entendre even when one meaning promotes a good cause.

He pointed to a Massachusetts case in which a school banned a T-shirt with the slogan “See Dick Drink. See Dick Drive. See Dick Die. Don’t be a Dick.” In that case, a federal judge found the school board and its administrators acted reasonably on behalf of the community they represent

Freund added that the Keep-a-Breast Foundation, which distributes the “I Boobies!” bracelets, admitted they appeal to a prurient interest, saying the foundation had received interest in the product from truck stops, vending machine operators and even a porn star. Freund said the Easton case had also been the subject of an article in Playboy magazine.

“It’s not the word boobies that’s the problem,” Freund said. “It’s the entire sentence that is not appropriate in a school environment.”

For allowing the bracelets in middle school:

The bracelets raise awareness of breast cancer and motivate students to learn more about and help combat the disease.

Against allowing the bracelets in middle school:

The bracelets really are about fashion and violate dress codes against clothing with vulgar, profane or double-entendre messages.

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