According to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed suit in federal court against Fort Wayne Community Schools (FWCS) after an assistant principal confiscated a female student’s “I ♥ boobies” bracelet. The suit, which does not identify the student or the school, alleges that the school infringed on the girl’s First Amendment right of freedom of speech by taking the bracelet away.
According to the suit, the student wore the bracelet for months without incident until it was confiscated in March 2012. The ACLU charges that, at that point, school officials then informed the student she could no longer wear the bracelet and at some point gave it back to her.
The lawsuit also alleges that school officials have cut the bracelets off of other students. The ACLU argues the bracelets do not break any of the school district’s rules issued in student handbooks, including rules outlawing sexually suggestive phrases or obscenities on clothes or attire that disrupts the classroom. Although FWCS officials have declined to comment on the suit, Krista Stockman, district spokeswoman, said schools in the district do not have a universal dress code and that the bracelets have been discussed.
The suit contends that the student “believes that the bracelet serves an important function in assisting with breast cancer health with financial support.” The ACLU seeks a court order allowing the student to wear the bracelet at school, as well as attorneys’ fees.
Earlier in 2012, the ACLU filed suit against another Indiana district that has banned the bracelets. As more and more schools have either banned the items or confiscated them, more and more lawsuits have been filed by the ACLU.
Source: Journal Gazette, 5/22/12, By Jeff Wiehe
[Editor's Note: As mentioned in the above article, in February 2012, Legal Clips summarized an Associated Press article in the Chicago Tribune, which reported that a student at Roosevelt Middle School had filed suit against the Twin Lakes School Corporation after the school’s vice principal ordered the student to turn his bracelet promoting breast cancer awareness inside out. According to the lawsuit, the student wore the bracelet, which contained the message “I (heart) Boobies,” to school without incident.]