The U.S. Supreme Court handed a victory to two teenage students today when the court rejected an appeal that had sought to ban the wearing of "boobies bracelets" in Pennsylvania schools.
The Supreme Court ruling leaves in place an earlier ruling on August 5, 2013 by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia that the "I (heart) Boobies" bracelets cannot be banned.
In the 9-5 decision in 2013, Judge D. Brooks Smith wrote that “Because the bracelets here are not plainly lewd and because they comment on a social issue, they may not be categorically banned.”
Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision, student Brianna Hawk, in an American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania statement said, "I am happy we won this case, because it's important that students have the right to stand up for a cause and try to make a difference. We just wanted to raise awareness about breast cancer."
The Easton Area School District said on Monday that "they were disappointed" with the Supreme Court ruling, and the decision "robs educators and school boards of the ability to strike a reasonable balance between a student's right to creative expression and school's obligation to maintain an environment focused on education and free from sexual entendre and vulgarity," according to a statement released by the school district to US media.
On November 9, 2010, Brianna, 13, along with Kayla Martinez, age 12, filed a free-speech lawsuit against an Easton Pennsylvania school district after being suspended for wearing bracelets promoting breast cancer awareness. The two girls were put on in-school suspension for a month and not allowed to participate in any school functions during the suspension.
The students had their parent's permission to wear the bracelets, The $4 rubber jewelry is sold by the Carlsbad, California-based non-profit Keep A Breast Foundation to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer organizations.
ACLU lawyer Mary Catherine Roper, who represented the families, wrote in the lawsuit filed in 2010 that "The First Amendment does not allow schools to censor students' speech merely because some students and teachers are offended by the non-vulgar educational message, and silencing the speakers because other students may react inappropriately would amount to a constitutionally impermissible heckler's veto."
It is not very often that the younger generation in the U.S. gets to see our courts and justice system acting in the way it was intended, It is rarer still for teenagers to have the chance to participate in the system, and better still that they have won.