Appeals court hears Pa. 'boobies' bracelets case
PHILADELPHIA - April 11, 2012 (WPVI) -- A federal appeals court is considering an eastern Pennsylvania school district's efforts to ban on breast cancer fundraising bracelets that say "I (heart) boobies!"
The (Easton) Express-Times says the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Philadelphia heard opening statements Tuesday in the case, in which two Easton Area Middle School students say their freedom of speech rights were violated when they were suspended for wearing the bracelets in October 2010.
The district is appealing a federal judge's ruling that the district cannot ban the rubber jewelry because it is not lewd, vulgar or distracting to the school day.
Attorneys for the district and the American Civil Liberties Union sparred Tuesday over whether the phrase has a sexual connotation.
"Everybody understands this is about breast cancer," argued ACLU attorney Mary Catherine Roper. "There is nothing sexual about breast cancer."
But district solicitor John Freund called the bracelets "cause-based marketing energized by sexual double-entendres." A ruling in favor of them, he argued, could open the floodgates to similar marketing campaigns for testicular cancer and prostate cancer containing a vulgar reference to the male anatomy.
Roper, however, agreed that the latter could be construed as sexual and appropriately banned by a school district. She argued that the phrase on the bracelets was not sexual unless body parts are "inherently sexualized," and many young girls use the phrase "boobs" or "boobies" rather than "breasts," making the idea less emotionally and sexually charged.
Freund argued that the phrase has a sexual connotation that is heightened by the age of the children involved.
"Middle school is a witch's brew of hormones and curiosity," he said.
Roper countered that almost anything can garner a sexual connotation at the middle school level, down to "the relative hardness of minerals."
Information from: The Express-Times, http://www.lehighvalleylive.com
pennsylvania, breast cancer, northampton county, philadelphia, local/state
- Snow today, heavy at times 16 min ago
- Get the 6abc StormTracker app
- WATCH: Action News Online
- 2013 Troop Greetings
- Photos: Pictures from the winter storm 30 min ago
- Photos: Winter storm forecast maps
- Video: David Henry on snow at Rittenhouse Sq. 25 min ago
- Video: Nora Muchanic on snow in Trenton 34 min ago
- Video: John Rawlins on snow in Norristown 56 min ago
- Gunman fires shots through window, teens wounded
- Heavy flames damage Southwest Philadelphia house
- Obama urges world to act on Mandela legacy
- Arrest made in Beats headphone murder
- Rachael Ray's cookbook competition
- Snow today, heavy at times
16 min ago
- David Henry on snow at Rittenhouse Sq.
25 min ago
- Nora Muchanic on snow in Trenton
34 min ago
- John Rawlins on snow in Norristown
56 min ago