By Anne Lowe
FREE SPEECH — The Clovis Unified School District has joined a number of others across the country in banning a breast cancer awareness bracelet, which it deems "sexually suggestive."
The forbidden bracelets, part of campaign targeting young people from the Keep A Breast organization based in Carlsbad, are emblazoned in bold, colorful lettering with the words "I [heart] Boobies", phrasing which the district deems as violating its dress code.
"We have an existing dress code that specifically states clothing, jewelry or accessories with sexually suggestive language or images is not allowed at school, district spokeswoman Kelly Avants told ABCNews.com. The issue runs deeper than the dress code, however; children and some parents believe the bracelets represent more than the school district gives them credit for.
Despite some schools' cracking down on the bracelets, students have been vocal about the novelty items on blogs and other sites such as Facebook, saying they want to wear them in support of what they believe is a good cause.
On one of several Facebook pages dedicated to the bracelets, one student wrote, "I wear like 47 boobie bracelets, supportin' cancer research is the way to go!" Another student wrote, "[T]o all the principals who think it's PERVERTED for us to wear them, its [sic] called THE FIRST AMENDMENT."
Parents' opinions are mixed, judging by postings on a variety of parenting blogs.
"While I think raising cancer awareness is important, I don't think 'boobies' is an appropriate word for school," wrote one mother.
"I am 100 percent fine with my child wearing clothing that says 'I Love Boobies. I believe in the cause," wrote another mother.
ABCNews.com said some school districts in the country are requiring students to flip the bracelets inside-out, while others like the Fresno Unified School District have decided to allow children to wear them because of their positive message.
In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), the Supreme Court ruled that in order to prohibit an expression of opinion, the district must establish that the prohibition is necessary to avoid disorder or disturbance in the school environment.
That principle, says Californians Aware General Counsel Terry Francke, is echoed in the California Education Code, which allows students disciplined for what they say on campus to sue school officials for removal of the taint to their records, if what they say would be protected if uttered off campus in the general community.