The Salt Lake Tribune reports that an administrator at Westridge Elementary School in Provo, Utah, confiscated a cancer awareness bracelet from a student that contained the message “I ♥ boobies” and was deemed too risque for the classroom. According to student’s mother, Jena van Frankenhuijsen, the school’s assistant principal told her that her son’s bracelet was taken away because “it confuses younger children” at the school.
Van Frankenhuijsen pointed out that the dress code does not prohibit wearing a bracelet that supports cancer research. She said, “Yes, I understand the snicker factor of wearing something that says ‘boobies’ when you are a 12-year-old boy. However, the more they make a big deal about it, the more the boys want to do it. I support my kid wearing that bracelet.”
Greg Hudnall, Associate Superintendent in the Provo School District, said the bracelet was confiscated to make sure the wording did not make other students, particularly girls going through puberty, uncomfortable. “Students are allowed to wear those bracelets or wherever. We just don’t want them to be distracting,” said Hudnall. “All it takes is one student running around and putting it in the face of a fifth-grade girl.”
Hudnall said the district does not limit students from wearing T-shirts, rings and bracelets touting breast cancer messages. But students in high school, he added, may have a different maturity level for dealing with an “I ♥ boobies” bracelet. “The question is more at the elementary level, of what’s appropriate,” said Hudnall. “What people don’t realize is we get complaints from other parents [upset about the bracelets being allowed] … It’s a fine line you walk as an organization.”
Van Frankenhuijsen said she will continue to fight for her son’s right to wear his bracelet at school — even if that means returning each day because a teacher has asked him to remove it.
Hudnall said the school’s principal in the future plans to allow students like van Frankenhuijsen’s son to wear the bracelets as long as they are not disruptive. Although van Frankenhuijsen’s son was not taunting classmates with the bracelet, that possibility is always there with middle school students, Hudnall said.
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, 10/31/12, By Melinda Rogers
[Editor’s Note: “I ♥ boobies” bracelets have led to litigation in a number of school districts across the country. In August 2012, Legal Clips summarized an Associated Press article in The Washington Post, which reported that the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit will weigh in on an eastern Pennsylvania school district’s efforts to ban the “I ♥ boobies” bracelets. A Third Circuit three-judge panel had been previously considering the case since April 2012. In the case, two Easton Area Middle School students say their freedom of speech rights were violated when they were suspended for wearing the bracelets in 2010. District officials say the word is vulgar.]