A full federal appeals court has decided to take up the question of whether a school district may bar “I ♥ Boobies” breast-cancer-awareness bracelets.
The rubber band bracelets are sponsored by the nonprofit Keep A Breast Foundation of Carlsbad, Calif., and feature slogans such as “I ♥ Boobies (Keep a Breast)” and “Check yourself (Keep a Breast).” They are meant to facilitate discussion about breast cancer and breast health.
In April 2011, a federal district judge issued an opinion in H. v. Easton Area School District blocking the Pennsylvania district from enforcing its ban on the bracelets. Officials at Easton Area Middle School believed the reference to “boobies” was vulgar and inappropriate for middle school students. Two students who were suspended for defying the prohibition challenged it in court as a violation of their First Amendment free-speech rights.
The district judge held that the bracelets could not be considered lewd or vulgar under the Supreme Court’s 1986 decision in Bethel School District v. Fraser, which gave schools the authority to punish lewd student speech.
On Aug. 16, the full court ordered an en banc rehearing in the case, meaning the full appeals court will examine the issue. The court did not indicate when the case would be reargued.
A version of this article appeared in the August 22, 2012 edition of Education Week as Appeals Court to Hear ‘Boobies’ Bands Case