September 10, 2011

Wisconsin 8th grader sues her school district and principal for banning "I (heart) Boobies!" bracelets.

"Students do have First Amendment rights... Silencing the speakers because other students might react inappropriately would amount to a constitutionally impermissible heckler's veto."

It's a breast-cancer-awareness bracelet, though literally it merely asserts enthusiasm for breasts. That's what makes it funny and attention-getting.

30 comments:

Jason (the commenter) said...

If the people running schools want to regulate every last little thing, shouldn't they expect children to sue? It's what people do when they are ruled by laws.

sydney said...

It's really more of a dress code issue than a free speech issue. Don't schools routinely ban T-shirts with provocative writing/illustrations?

And there are better ways to promote breast cancer awareness than "I heart boobies." What about that slogan makes you think of breast cancer? It makes me think more of strip joints.

Paddy O said...

students have first amendment rights?

Teachers seem to ignore that a lot. As do school uniforms, etc. and so on.

I'm not really on the side of the student here, even though I get the humor and agree with the sentiment. I suspect it would be particularly disruptive, albeit popular, in 8th grade.

FedkaTheConvict said...

A Sauk Prairie Middle School eighth-grader who was banned last school year from wearing a bracelet that promotes breast cancer awareness filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Thursday against the school district and the principal of her school.



What a tortured sentence! Doesn't the WSJ have editors?

Paddy O said...

It also sounds needlessly litigious in an age in which, apparently, Wisconsin schools need all the money they can get.

Sounds like potential sexual harassment too, especially once the boys get their bracelets, and I have no doubt the 8th grade boys were snickering and wearing them.

It's not like once you're grown up, and have a paying job, your boss is going to let you wear something like that.

There's all sorts of other factors involved.

traditionalguy said...

That sucks. Will they ban padded bras and tight sweaters next?

It is war. Both male and female must unite and charge those hills.

Breasts are under open attack because they expose La Difference, and the feminists command that there shall be no difference.

TWM said...

Maybe they can wear them while dressed as Pretty Woman hookers for real attention grabbing.

http://www.parenting.com/blogs/show-and-tell/alina-parentingcom/pageant-girl-dresses-prostitute-pretty-woman

virgil xenophon said...

Ann, is Tinker v. Des Moines (the black arm-band Vietnam war protest case) still "good law" in the light of Bethal School Dist v. Frazer (indecent speech) and Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (school newspapers) and Morse v. Frederick (advocacy of drugs?)

virgil xenophon said...

PS: I know WiKi thinks so, Ann, but do you!

Triangle Man said...

It's a vulgar slogan, but oh so true.

Seems like a reasonable call on the part of the principle. If said aloud the same phrase would be disruptive in middle school.

Also, how much more awareness dies breast cancer need? It received vastly more funding than any other type of cancer despite the very high survival rate.

Ann Althouse said...

@Virgil Why the appeal to (my) authority? Discuss the cases if you like.

Paddy O said...

"Why the appeal to (my) authority?"

Under Obama, we're told that the experts and people with credentials know what's best for us, and we need them to tell us what to think.

Mary said...

"That's what makes it funny and attention-getting."


Keep it out of the classroom, and do your funny advocacy work on your own time...

Schools don't need the distractions. Other students there to learn academics need to be protected from the distractions too. It starts with "I love boobies" bracelets, but where does it end if the teachers/authorities relinquish all control?

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0811-gay-student-20110811,0,923167.story

virgil xenophon said...

Well, Ann, I think Tinker was wrongly decided from jump street, so you know approx where MY sentiments rest.. School discipline and an educational/instructional setting conducive to sound learning have never been the same since once the flood-gates were opened by Tinker. (IMHO)

Levi Starks said...

Imagine tee shirts with an assortment of "I heart (you fill in the body part). because lets face it every part and organ in our body is susceptible to cancer. lets try this one.. "I heart testicles" . That was Lance Armstrong's original diagnosis.

galdosiana said...

If the student wins the case, then does that mean school districts no longer have a legal right to enforce dress codes? I'm really curious about that, because this to me seems like a dress code issue--which is almost always worded in terms of "limiting distractions" caused by dress and hair styles.

virgil xenophon said...

In many ways Tinker reminds me of Roe in that, imo, both were ill though out and seriously flawed both in logic, and the law (as well as science, in the case of Roe) with the obvious result both are constantly modified to account for their intrinsic flaws/omissions such that they are slowly being whittled down and circumscribed to but a shadow of their former selves. Yet unfortunately I don't see a society or a Court willing to admit (either to themselves or to history) that they made fundamental errors that are so great that both cases should be overturned in toto so I'll simply predict that both original findings will continue to suffer the "death of a thousand cuts" as with each passing decade views and the science (Roe) change and new modifications are continually made..

Mary said...

So, if a student realllly likes her cats, could she (or he) get away with wearing a "I LOVE PXXXXXX" shirt?

C'mon, it is kinda funny. And you know if you give the more clever/creative kids an inch what they'll take.

(Funning is more fun than learning, you know.)

Mary said...

* The student could always justify it by saying she is simply concerned for their safety, and is advocating on behalf of all the cats that are routinely put down at all the non non-kill animal shelters, right?.

Plus, there's always that feline leukemia angle to play...

Hagar said...

No 8 grade students get to sue anybody anywhere. This is her stupid parents and a two-bit shyster looking to makesome bones and a reputation.

Daryl said...

How about "I hate Muslims" as shorthand for a more nuanced message that Muslim-run countries tend to be autocratic, and tend to support terrorism, fear, violence, and extremism at home and abroad?

Daryl said...

Is the school supposed to react to the words as they are actually written, or is it supposed to react to the message that is implied?

I think the school has to respond to both.

If she is allowed to wear that, obviously boys who don't care about BRCA would be permitted to wear identical bracelets. The school can't limit expression to people who express statements for the "right" reasons.

edutcher said...

The "Keep A Breast" should have been a tip-off and someone should have had sense enough to ask. The Breast Society is partly to blame for trying to be cutesy, but, once again, we have a school administration sticking their nose in something that really isn't their business. All they had to do was ask her to put it in her pocket during class hours or at least to explain to the class what it was about.

And what Paddy O said. This is the Lefty idea kids that age have the same rights as adults. Often used as a dodge to get a more Conservative rule thrown out. Now it's coming back to bite them.

Good.

jacksonjay said...

Ann says, "though literally it merely asserts enthusiasm for breasts." So if women can assert enthusiam for breast, why do they get so pissed off when men respond accordingly? Just sayin!

jacksonjay said...

I obviously meant to say breasts, plural!

PatCA said...

The bracelets are vulgar and sure to cause distraction among children.

The child's mother needs to grow up; maybe the girl has a chance then to do the same.

Amy said...

Many breast cancer patients and survivors, including myself, find that slogan and others like it trivializing and offensive (such as: save the ta tas). This does not address the legal question. Just sayin.

GulfofMexico said...

Attention whores (girl and parents).

The Genius Savant said...

While I think this is a dumb rule for the school to have and enforce, I'm with Justice Thomas on this issue. I think of myself as pretty solid on First Amendment issues but it's beyond me how an 8th-grader at school has any free speech rights. She certainly wouldn't have in 1800, she shouldn't now.

Geoff Matthews said...

I guess community standards are no longer relevant.
This is why there is significant support for school choice. Let the parents choose the school, but more radically, let the schools choose the student.