February 18, 2011|
THE MORNING CALL
PHILADELPHIA — An attorney for two Easton Area Middle School girls threatened with discipline last fall for wearing rubber bracelets with the slogan “I ♥ Boobies!” to promote breast cancer awareness argued in a hearing Friday the message wasn’t intended to be sexual and didn’t warrant the school’s ban on the apparel.
The bracelets use the heart symbol popularized by New York’s “I love New York” campaign.
School district solicitor John Freund told U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin that the intent didn’t matter; it was the perception and context that mattered. Testimony from administrators in the district’s seventh- and eighth-grade middle school building clearly shows other students saw a sexual double entendre in the message.
Brianna Hawk, 13, and Kayla Martinez, 12, who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, sued the district after being suspended for refusing to remove the bracelets. They argue the district’s ban violates their First Amendment right to free speech.