Battle over 'lewd' breast cancer bracelets heads to US Supreme Court
The legal battle between two girls and their school over "I (heart) Boobies!" breast cancer awareness bracelets could be settled by the US Supreme Court.
School officials in the Pennsylvania town of Easton plan to appeal a federal court's decision that rejected its claim the bracelets were lewd and should be banned from school after they held a school district board vote. Officials say they are concerned about a "hyper-sexualised" school environment.
Easton is one of several school districts around the US to ban the bracelets from the Keep A Breast Foundation of California.
The case started in 2010 when two girls, then aged 12 and 13, challenged the school's ban on the bracelets designed to promote breast cancer awareness among young people.
The students, Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez, said they merely hoped to promote awareness of the disease at their middle school. They filed a suit when they were suspended for defying the ban on their school's Breast Cancer Awareness Day.
In August, an appeals court upheld a lower court's decision in favour of the girls, saying that the district did not prove the bracelets were disruptive.
Easton Area School District Superintendent John Reinhart told Easton's The Express-Times he supported the board's decision. In court sessions, Reinhart had called the bracelets "cause-based marketing energised by sexual double-entendres".
An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped the girls challenge the rule, said the school had been hinting that it would petition the Supreme Court.
"I'm just really surprised that they're so determined to fight this," Mary Catherine Roper said. "[The bracelets] didn't cause any problems in the school."
The lone board member to vote against the appeal said the district should just drop the matter. "I think we should be done with it. Let it go. We lost 20, 30 times, I don't even know anymore," Frank Pintabone said.