Supreme court declines to hear 'I (heart sign) boobies' case

WASHINGTON Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:49am EDT

The exterior of the U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington March 5, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

The exterior of the U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington March 5, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a school district's appeal over an attempt by officials to ban breast cancer awareness bracelets bearing the message "I (heart sign) boobies," handing victory to two students who challenged the decision on free speech grounds.

The court's decision not to take up the case means that an August 2013 ruling by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of students Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez is left intact.

School officials at Easton Area Middle School banned seventh- and eighth-grader students from wearing the bracelets in October 2010 prior to national Breast Cancer Awareness Day. At the time, Hawk was in eighth grade and Martinez was in seventh.

The bracelets are sold by a group called the Keep-A-Breast Foundation, which supports breast cancer awareness. The group has expressed support on its website for students who have worn the bracelets against the wishes of school officials.

Both girls continued to wear the bracelets, citing their freedom of speech rights, and refused to remove them when asked. School officials punished the girls by giving them 1 1/2-day in-school suspension. The girls also initially were banned from the school's winter ball, although they were later allowed to attend. The school district eventually banned the bracelets from all schools.

The girls, through their mothers, sued the school district in federal court in November 2010. In April 2011, the district court issued an injunction preventing the school from disciplining students for wearing the bracelets.

The case is Easton Area School District v. B.H., U.S. Supreme Court, 13-672.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Bill Trott)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (2)
JamVee wrote:
This school is obviously hampered by the “small and obstructive thought processes” of those who run it.

This “defeat” is a victory over the utter absurdity of POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, and all that it stands for.

Mar 10, 2014 11:03am EDT  --  Report as abuse
eclecticmike wrote:
Very few people understand the nuance that goes into forming a learning culture in a classroom or in a school. So many “little things” that people hear about onside a school add up in a big way inside a classroom. This isn’t about political correctness as much as it is about allowing schools to make the decisions that they feel they need to make to be effective. The commenters here, nor I, know the cultural context of this school, the population it serves, the maturity and mentality of it’s students, and yet everyone wants to weigh in on how they think that school should run, or what it does and doesn’t need to do in order to give students an opportunity to obtain an excellent, high-quality education. It is ironic that those that complain about the performance of our schools and the injustice of educational inequality in one breath, will undermine the very foundations and principles a school tries to enact in order to accomplish that goal in another.

Mar 10, 2014 4:04pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.