A federal district judge in Indiana has ruled that school administrators may prohibit "I ♥ Boobies" breast-cancer awareness bracelets as lewd or vulgar student speech.
Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen of Hammond, Ind., considered and rejected the reasoning of the full federal appeals court in Philadelphia, which ruled earlier this month that the bracelets could not be barred because they comment on a social issue and are not "plainly lewd."
"Clearly, the breast cancer awareness message does not eliminate the vulgar meaning behind ‘I ♥ Boobies’," Van Bokkelen said in his Aug. 20 opinion in J.A. v. Fort Wayne Community Schools.
The Fort Wayne school district barred the bracelets, which are produced by the Keep A Breast Foundation of Carlsbad, Calif., after a male high school student in 2010 was wearing one when he harassed a female student by repeating the phrase "I love boobies" around her. District officials, which had also confiscated a bracelet that said, "Save the boobs," concluded that such messages were offensive to women and inappropriate for school regardless of their breast cancer awareness theme.