‘I (heart) boobies’ should be allowed in school
By Sean B., Staff Writer
The presumed right of censorship has been taken too far by some schools.The fine line that school officials must walk is strictly due to the First Amendment. How far can school officials go before they conflict with a student’s First Amendment rights? This same question was considered by the Supreme Court in the case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (argued November 12, 1968, decided February 24, 1969). In this case, the students wore black arm bands to petition against the Vietnam War. The school tried to punish the students, but the Supreme Court ruled that the punishment was a violation of their First Amendment rights.
This court case is very similar to the I(heart)Boobies controversy that is making its way through the court system today. Of course, there are some differences in this issue, but ultimately it is the exact same violation of the First Amendment. The bracelets that students are wearing consist of a stretchable plastic material with writing that says, “I(heart)Boobies.” Many students are receiving disciplinary action because they are wearing the bracelets.
Some school officials believe that the bracelets are a distraction in the classroom, and that they have a double meaning, sexually that is. Many school officials will not even push the double meaning side of the argument but will just stand behind the argument that the “boobies” language is inappropriate. However, this argument lacks merit. The reason kids wear the bracelets is to support the fight to cure breast cancer.
I also will agree that the bracelet does have a double meaning. No one can deny that the bracelets can be taken sexually, as a person loving boobies (as in the sense of a woman’s mammary glands). But it is incorrect to assume that students are only wearing the bracelets for shock value. Sure, the slogan is catchy and somewhat provocative. This was obviously a great tactic by the breast cancer awareness society, and it’s paying off for them. “Keep A Breast really feels that ‘boobies’ is not a four-letter word. We’re using a word that’s not scary, and I think that is why the media have really started talking about us. We’ve really been able to talk to so many more people because of this,” said marketing manager of the Keep A Breast Foundation, Kimmy McAtee, in the article “Breast Cancer Bracelets Raise Debate Over School Codes.”
Why take that away from them? It’s clearly wrong prohibit students from wearing the bracelets in school. One of the best places to support such a cause is in our schools, but school staff members are ruining it for many of the newly attracted breast cancer supporters. Any student can raise a ruckus in school, demean women or be sexually inappropiate, but a bracelet has no link to these actions.
Schools cannot ban these bracelets unless they have a clear policy set in place that bans jewelry, the word boobies, or slogans of any kind. Clearly the argument that students are causing distractions in our schools by having arm bands with a sexual double meaning is bogus. In Thomas L. Tedford and Dale A. Herbeck’s book Freedom of Speech in the United States, Justice Abe Fortas said, they “must be able to show that [their] action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint.” Wearing these bracelets may cause some people discomfort, and could possibly be considered an unpopular viewpoint, but that is not a reason to take disciplinary action. Students should be able to support breast cancer awareness by wearing their I(heart)Boobies bracelets.
Note: This editorial was completed for the Five Freedoms contest at Robert Morris University.