Boobies Defeat School District in Federal Court

Thursday, August 08, 2013
Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez (AP Photo)

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down a Pennsylvania school district's ban on bracelets that carry the message “I ♥ Boobies! (Keep a Breast),” calling it an unconstitutional restriction on students’ freedom of speech.


The case began three years ago after two students at Easton Area Middle School, Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez, were suspended from the school and banned from a school dance for wearing the bracelets on campus to honor family members who had died of breast cancer. The Keep a Breast Foundation, a non-profit group based in Carlsbad, California, distributes the bracelets as part of its national campaign to make young people aware of the disease.


With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the students sued the school district to challenge the prohibition.


A panel of judges ruled (pdf) 9-5 that Easton Area went too far in 2010 with the suspensions of Hawk and Martinez. The ruling stated that school officials can ban statements that are lewd or obscene, but messages that make a social or political statement—even if they are deemed offensive to some—are protected by the First Amendment.


Easton is one of several school districts around the country that banned the bracelets.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Federal Court Strikes Down 'I Love Boobies' Ban (by Peter Hall and Samantha Marcus, Lehigh Valley Morning Call)

Easton Area School District: Struck Down 'I Heart Boobies' Bracelet Ban Leaves Schools 'Defenseless' (by Peter Panepinto, Lehigh Valley Express-Times)

Booby Bracelet Rights Upheld by 3rd Circuit (by Nick Divito, Courthouse News Service)

Court Ruling: B.H., A Minor, by and Through her Mother; Jennifer Hawk; K.M., A Minor by and Through her Mother; Amy McDonald-Martinez v. Easton Area School District (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit) (pdf)


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