“I Love Boobies Bracelets” – Students Continue to Fight School Districts

Many school kids are wearing “I Love Boobies” bracelets in memory of a relative who has died of cancer, or in support of a cancer survivor in their family. Why isn’t more being done to support these students?

Schools are continuing to try to ban the controversial “I Love Boobies” bracelets, even after a federal court in Pennsylvania ruled that such bracelets were protected by the first amendment How can they do that?  Well, what we find in the Pennsylvania court’s 40-page opinion is that the judge ruled that the particular school district in question failed to prove a “well-founded expectation of material and substantial disruption from wearing these bracelets….”  So other school districts are apparently spending their limited financial resources on lawyers they hope will make a better case for them.  Case in point, the Watertown School District of Massachusetts, which banned the bracelets recently and will soon face a court challenge.  Since I first blogged about the “Boobies” bracelets last October, I have received a handful of emails every month from students looking to fight their schools.  My advice is as follows.

  • Step one: Read your student handbook for appeal procedures on any disciplinary action you receive (e.g. detention or suspension).
  • Step two: Write the appeal letter and deliver it.  (Most appeal procedures first require a hearing in front of the principal, and then the school board.)
  • Step three: Contact the media.  Look up newspapers and local T.V. stations online, and email them.  Many schools will back down from the embarrassment of such a ban.
  • Step four: If that doesn’t work, call your local chapter of the ACLU.

As a lawyer who has actually represented school districts before, my advice to schools is:  “Give it up!”   You school districts won’t win, even if you take the case to the Supreme Court! Here is why the schools won’t win on this: the bracelets will never be shown to be sufficiently “disruptive” to justify a ban, particularly now that the bracelets are so commonplace.  While at first the bracelets may have led to snickers, now they are so common as to be boring.  And school districts are forgetting the fundamental rule of American popular culture.   First something is trendy, then it goes mainstream, then it becomes universally hated.  By the time your lawyers finish proof-reading their legal briefs, the “I Love Boobies!” bracelets will be cast aside for another trend.

For prior blog posts on other First Amendment issues in school, check out here, here, and here.

10 Responses to ““I Love Boobies Bracelets” – Students Continue to Fight School Districts”

  • Lexie:

    So at my school, the rules are like this. The teachers don’t really care and pretend not to see the boobies bands, but the principle looks around for them in the halls and specially in the lunch room. He told me to take it off and put it in my pocket and when i said i didn’t have any pockets he made me throw it away. Can he do that? What should i have said?

    • Steve Graham:

      Hmmm. If you really want to fight this, then yes defy your teacher. It is not a crime to wear such a bracelet so you can’t go to jail. But if you are one of these over achiever types who wants to go to West Point, i guess you don’t want any disciplinary action on your record.

    • DALTON:


  • Carlie:

    Just tell them to fuck off, no one make you throw your property away.

    • Steve Graham:

      Yes tell them this. When i was in school, i would see a teacher at the end of a long empty hall way and then yell an obscenity, and then i would duck into an empty classroom and hide before they turned around. I still do that to people i don’t like sometimes in court houses and also at walmart

  • julia:

    in our school those bands are known to be worn by people that suport the fight against breast canser so just tell teachers that

    • Steve Graham:

      Thanks for your comment Julia. Does that typically work for teachers to try to get them to ease up? Individual teachers seem to have a better understanding of the bracelets. From what i hear from most kids, it is the admin that really give them trouble.

  • Peter K:

    No, if you curse at your teacher, you can be disciplined for that irrespective of any I love boobies band that you may have on. You might have a first amendment right to say that to a cop on the street, but such a comment to a teacher is definitely disruptive to class, and you won’t win that at the supreme court on free speech or freedom of expression grounds. I am not sure it is as clear cut as Graham states, and the only clear winner in this Boobies thing is the Keep a Breast Foundation. Lexie, as Graham states, you can defy your teacher and then appeal your suspension or detention, but you also have the legal remedy of petitioning a court for an injunction prohibiting the school from enforcing any ban on the bracelets. That would cost a lot of money, so yes, call the ACLU. Also see the news for new cases in Moffat county colorado – there the school district backed down from the ban they sought to impose on I love Boobies bracelets.

  • Steve Graham:

    Yelling “fuck you” at cops? You are on your own on that one Peter.

  • The bands are a little controversial we must admit, but the cause of it is good. And I think it helps promote social awareness for cancer. People tend to be interested in not-so-ordinary things and with these kind of bands, they get interested, they join, they become aware.

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Steve Graham is a criminal defense lawyer, and he splits his time between Spokane and Seattle, Washington. Visit his website by clicking: www.grahamdefense.com
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