Onward And Upward With The Hearts

Our guest columnist is Pennsylvania federal district judge Mary McLaughlin, who writes “boobies” sixty times in the original.

This case involves a middle school’s ban on breast cancer awareness bracelets that bear the slogan “I ♥ Boobies (Keep A Breast)” and similar statements. These bracelets are distributed by the Keep A Breast Foundation, which operates breast cancer education programs and campaigns that are oriented toward young women. On the school’s designated breast cancer awareness day, two female students defied the school’s bracelet prohibition and both were suspended for a day and a half and prohibited from attending an upcoming school dance. The students, by and through their parents, filed this law suit seeking, among other things, a preliminary injunction to enjoin the school district from enforcing the ban…

The “I ♥ Boobies! (Keep A Breast)” bracelets became popular with students at the Easton Area Middle School during the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, which began on August 30, 2010. In mid- to late-September, approximately four or five of the 120 teachers in the Middle School’s 7-8 building spoke to or electronically contacted [assistant principal] Ms. Braxmeier about the “I ♥ Boobies! (Keep A Breast)” bracelets. The teachers sought instruction regarding how the school would choose to handle the bracelets. The three principals, Mr. Viglianti, Ms. Braxmeier, and Ms. DiVietro, conferred and agreed that the bracelets should be banned.

On September 23, 2010, Mr. Viglianti sent an email instructing faculty and staff to ask students to remove “wristbands that have the word ‘boobie’ written on them.” Mr. Viglianti stated that students instead may wear pink on October 28th in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This initial ban was not communicated directly to the students. On October 27, 2010, a day before the School District’s designated breast cancer awareness day, Ms. DiVietro recirculated the email that Mr. Viglianti sent on September 23, 2010. In response, a teacher requested that the ban be communicated to the students directly by the administration. On the afternoon of October 27, 2010, approximately two months into the school year, Mr. Viglianti read a prepared statement over the public address system describing the ban. The next morning, October 28, 2010, a student delivered a statement prepared by the School administration on the School’s TV station that reiterated the ban. The School’s TV announcement contained the word “boobies.”…

Mr. Viglianti testified at his deposition that the administrators’ decision was based on the term “boobies,” which was “not appropriate.” He thought that some of the students were not mature enough “to understand and see that [as] appropriate”, and he was concerned that the use of the word “boobies” in the bracelets would cause students “to start using the word just in communication with other students, talking with other students.” He testified at the evidentiary hearing that the word “boobies” was “vulgar,” based on his understanding that “vulgar is slang.” At his deposition, Mr. Viglianti also testified that it would be similarly inappropriate for either the word “breast” or the phrases “keep-a-breast.org” or “breast cancer awareness” to be displayed on clothing in the middle school. During the evidentiary hearing, he changed his position and concluded that a bracelet bearing only “keep-a-breast.org” would be permissible.

Ms. DiVietro also clarified her position at the evidentiary hearing. At her deposition, Ms. DiVietro testified that the words “keep-a-breast.org” are “not acceptable” for middle schoolers because the word “breast” “can be construed as a sexual connotation.” At the evidentiary hearing, she concluded that the words “breast cancer awareness” or a bracelet that only said “keep-a-breast.org” would not be vulgar in a middle school.

At the evidentiary hearing, the School’s principals testified that the bracelets violate the Middle School’s dress code because the phrase “I ♥ Boobies!” is an impermissible double entendre about sexual attraction to breasts.

Ms. DiVietro testified that allowing students to wear the Keep A Breast Foundation’s “I ♥ Boobies! (Keep A Breast)” bracelets would diminish her authority to prevent students from wearing clothing with other statements that the administrators deemed “inappropriate.” She explained that banning the “I ♥ Boobies! (Keep A Breast)” bracelets “makes a statement that we as a school district have the right to have discretionary decisions on what types of things are appropriate and inappropriate for our school children.”…

The Court was presented with evidence of two incidents in late October and mid-November where the school administrators received reports of boys making inappropriate remarks about “boobies” in reference to the “I ♥ Boobies! (Keep A Breast)” bracelets. First, during Ms. Braxmeier’s October 28, 2010 conversation with [student] R.T. about her “I ♥ Boobies! (Keep A Breast)” bracelets, R.T. stated that she believed some boy(s) had made remarks to girls about their “boobies.” The specific details surrounding this incident were never confirmed. Second, on or about November 16, 2010, the Middle School administrators received a report that two female students were discussing the “I ♥ Boobies! (Keep A Breast)” bracelets when a boy sitting with them at lunch interrupted them and made statements such as “I want boobies” and made inappropriate gestures with two fireball candies. The administrators spoke with the boy, who admitted to the incident and was suspended for one day…

The Court cannot conclude that any use of the word “boobies” is vulgar and can be banned, no matter what the context. The word “boobies” in the context of breast cancer awareness does refer to a female’s breast. However, the words boob, booby, and bubby have a number of possible meanings, and thus context matters in interpreting the word. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word booby or boobie may refer to “a dull, heavy, stupid fellow: a lubber”, a clown, or a nincompoop. It may also refer to the last boy in a school class, the dunce. A booby is also a type of seabird. The word “boob” is defined as a slang word for breasts, but may also be a foolish mistake or blunder…

Nor is the use of the phrase “I ♥ Boobies!” gratuitous. The words were chosen to enhance the effectiveness of the communication to the target audience. There is, of course, no inherent sexual association with the phrase “I ♥ [something].” For example, T-shirts that bear the slogan “I ♥ NY” suggest affinity, not sexual attraction, to New York…

The School itself used the word “boobies” in a prepared statement delivered by a student announcing the bracelet ban. A school would not have been willing to use lewd or vulgar language in a broadcast to its entire student body. This supports a conclusion that the School did not actually consider the word “boobies” to be vulgar. It appears to the Court that the Middle School has used lewdness and vulgarity as a post-hoc justification for its decision to ban the bracelets.

The Easton Area School District board has voted unanimously to appeal the ruling.

H. v. Easton Area School District [PDF/Lehigh Valley Live]

Federal judge rules ‘boobies’ is not vulgar [Yahoo, via Formerly The Starter Wife]

The Keep A Breast Foundation


Well, we’re living here in Bethlehem Easton Allentown
And they’re closing all the boobie ed down
Where the students have more sense than admin
Thinking of health while thinking of sin

Or just having fun with words. Meh.

“Easton Area School District: Educating for Life’s Journey [even if it takes you to an early grave].”

Here’s the 8th grade reading list (students are told to see if their parents are okay with the books they choose before they read them). The language in many of these books is stronger than “boobie,” so I’m sure book burning is next.

(Revised 2007) !!!
Acorn People Ron Jones RF
Across Five Aprils Irene Hunt HF
Adventures of Ulysses Bernard Evslin Myth
Alas, Babylon Pat Frank RF
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll Fan / Classic
Alicia: My Story Appleman – Jurman HBio
Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors Piers Paul Read Adv/Bio
All Creatures Great and Small James Herriot Auto/Ani
All Quiet on the Western Front Erich Marie Remarque War
And Then There Were None Agatha Christie Mystery
Animal Farm George Orwell Satire / Classic
Anne Frank, Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank HBio
April Morning Howard Fast HF
Arms and the Man George Bernard Shaw Drama
Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman Ernest Gaines RF
Billy Budd Herman Melville Classic
Black Beauty A. Sewell Adv/Ani
Black Boy Richard Wright Auto
Black Like Me John Howard Griffin Auto
Black Pearl Scott O’Dell Adv
Bless the Beasts and Children Glendon Swarthout Adv/CF
Blue Sword Robin McKinly HF
Brave New World Aldous Huxley SciFi
Brian Piccolo: A Short Season Jeannie Morris Bio/Sports
Brian’s Song William Blinn Bio/ Sports
Brian’s Winter Gary Paulsen CF
Bridge of San Luis Rey Thornton Wilder Classic
Bridges at Toko-Ri James Michener HF
Call of the Wild Jack London Adv/Ani / Classic
The Cat Ate My Gymsuit * Paula Danzinger CF
Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger CF
The Cay Theodore Taylor CF
Cheaper by the Dozen Frank Gilbreth Bio/Com
Childhood’s End Arthur Clarke SciFi
The Chosen Chaim Potok CF
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court Mark Twain Fan/HF / Classic
Contender Robert Lipsyte CF
Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas Classic
Crash * Jerry Spinelli CF
Dandelion Wine Ray Bradbury SciFi
Dark is Rising Susan Cooper Fan
David Copperfield Charles Dickens Classic
Day No Pigs Would Die Robert Peck CF
Death be not Proud John Gunther Bio
Death Comes for the Archbishop Willa Cather Classic
Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller Drama
Deathwatch Robb White Adv
Deliverance James Dickey Adv
Dicey’s Song Cynthia Voigt CF
Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack M.E. Kerr CF
Door in the Wall Marguerite De Angeli HF
Dorp Dead * Julia Cunningham CF
Dracula Bram Stoker Classic
Dragonwings Laurence Yep RF
Durango Street Frank Bonham CF
East of Eden John Steinbeck Classic
Edgar Allen John Neufeld CF
Effect of Gamma Rays . . . * Paul Zindel Drama
Endless Steppe Esther Hautzig Hbio
Eric Doris Lund Bio
Ethan Frome Edith Wharton Classic
Farewell to Manzanar Jeanne Houston HBio
Fellowship of the Ring J.R.R. Tolkien Fan / Classic
Fiddler on the Roof Joseph Stein Drama
Flowers for Algernon (novel) Daniel Keyes SciFi
For Whom the Bell Tolls Ernest Hemingway War/ Classic
Forged By Fire Sharon Draper CF
Freak the Mighty * Rodman Philbrick CF
From the Mixed Up Files . . . E.L. Konigsburg CF
Gentlehands M.E. Kerr CF
Giver Lois Lowry CF
Glass Menagerie Tennessee Williams Drama
Go Ask Alice Anonymous CF/Auto
Gods, Heroes, and Men of Ancient Greece W.H.D. Rouse Myth
Good Earth Pearl S. Buck HF
Good-bye, Mr. Chips James Hilton CF
Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck Classic
Gulliver’s Travels Jonathan Swift Fan / Classic
Guns of Navaronne Alistair McLean Adv
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone * J.K. Rowling Fan
Hatchet Gary Paulsen CF
Heidi Johanna Spyri RF
Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich Alice Childress CF
Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of Greek Myths Bernard Evslin Myth
Hiding Place Corrie Ten Boom Holocaust
Hiroshima John Hersey Bio
Holes * Louis Sachar CF
Homecoming Cynthia Voigt CF
Hound of the Baskervilles Arthur Conan Doyle Mystery
House of Seven Gables Nathaniel Hawthorne Classic
How Green Was My Valley Richard Llewellyn RF
Huck Finn Mark Twain Classic
I Am the Cheese Robert Cormier CF
I Heard the Owl Call My Name Margaret Craven CF
I Know What You Did Last Summer Lois Duncan CF
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou Auto
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden Joanne Greenberg CF
I Remember Mama John van Druten Com
Illustrated Man Ray Bradbury SciFi
Incredible Journey Sheila E. Burnford Adv/Ani
Inherit the Wind Jerome Lawrence Drama
Invisible Man H.G. Wells SciFi / Classic
Island of the Blue Dolphins Scott O’Dell Adv
Ivanhoe Walter Scott Classic
Jacob Have I Loved Katherine Paterson CF
Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte Classic
Johnny Got His Gun Dalton Trumbo War
Johnny Tremain Esther Forbes War
Journey to the Center of the Earth Jules Verne SciFi / Classic
Julie of the Wolves Jean Craighead George CF
Kidnapped Robert Louis Stevenson Adv / Classic
Killing Mr. Griffin Lois Duncan CF
Last of the Mohicans James Fenimore Cooper Adv
Learning Tree Gordon Parks CF
Let the Circle Be Unbroken Mildred Taylor CF
Life on the Mississippi Mark Twain Classic/Adv
Light in the Forest Conrad Richter Adv
Lilies of the Field William Barrett CF
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe * C.S. Lewis Fan
Lisa, Bright and Dark John Neufeld CF
Little Prince Antoine Dest Exupery Fan
Little Women (unabridged) L.M. Alcott Classic
Lord of the Flies William Golding Fan
Lorna Doone R. D. Blackmore Classic
Lost Horizon James Hilton Fan
Lost World Michael Crichton Fan
Lyddie Katherine Paterson CF
Magician’s Nephew C. S. Lewis Fan
Man for All Seasons Robert Bolt HF
Martian Chronicles Ray Bradbury SciFi
Member of the Wedding Carson McCullers Drama
Midwife’s Apprentice Karen Cushman CF
Miracle Worker William Gibson Drama
Moby Dick Herman Melville Classic
Moon is Down John Steinbeck Classic
Moonstone Wilkie Collins Mystery / Classic
Mossflower Brian Jacques Fan
Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones Ann Head CF
Mrs. Mike Nancy Freedman CF
Murder on the Orient Express Agatha Christie Mystery
Mutiny on the Bounty Charles Nordhoff Adv
My Antonia Willa Cather Classic
My Brother Sam is Dead James Lincoln Collier HF
My Darling, My Hamburger Paul Zindel CF
My Fair Lady Alan J. Lerner Drama
My Side of the Mountain Jean Craighead George CF
Native Son Richard Wright CF
Night Elie Weisel CF
Night to Remember Walter Lord HF
1984 George Orwell SciFi / Classic
No Promises in the Wind Irene Hunt CF
Nothing But the Truth Avi CF
Number the Stars Lois Lowry CF
Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck Classic
Old Man and the Sea Ernest Hemingway Classic
Old Yeller Fred Gipson CF
Oliver Twist Charles Dickens Classic
On the Beach Nevil Shute SciFi
Once and Future King T.H. White RF
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Alexander Solzhenitsyn CF/Auto
Ordinary People Judith Guest CF
Our Town Thornton Wilder Drama
Out of the Dust Karen Hesse RF
Outsiders S.E. Hinton CF
Ox-Bow Incident Walter Van Tilburg Clark HF
Pardon Me, You’re Stepping on my Eyeball Paul Zindel CF
Patch of Blue Elizabeth Kata CF
Pearl John Steinbeck Classic
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen Classic
Prince and the Pauper Mark Twain Classic
Profiles in Courage John F. Kennedy Bio
Pudd’nhead Wilson Mark Twain Com / Classic
Pygmalion George Bernard Shaw Drama
Raisin in the Sun Lorraine Hansberry Drama
Rascal Sterling North Adv/Ani
Rebecca Daphne du Maurier Fan
Red Pony John Steinbeck Classic
Red Sky at Morning Richard Bradford RF
Redwall Brian Jacques Fan
Remembering the Good Times Richard Peck CF
River Gary Paulsen CF
Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe Adv / Classic
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Mildred Taylor HF
Rumble Fish S.E. Hinton CF
Scarlet Pimpernel Baroness Orczy Classic
Scorpions Walter Dean Myers CF
Secret Garden F. H. Burnett Fan
Separate Peace John Knowles Classic
Shane Jack Schaefer Western
Sign of the Beaver Elizabeth George Speare CF
Sing Down the Moon Scott O’Dell HF
Slave Dancer Paula Fox HF
Snow Treasure Marie McSwigan CF
Snowbound: Story of Raw Survival Harry Mazer CF
Something for Joey Richard Peck CF
Something Wicked This Way Comes Ray Bradbury SciFi
Sounder William Armstrong Adv/Ani
Sphere Michael Crichton CF
Story of my Life Helen Keller Auto
Summer of the Monkeys Wilson Rawls CF
Summer of my German Soldier Bette Greene CF
Swiss Family Robinson Johann Wyss Adv / Classic
Sword and the Stone T. H. White Fan
Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens Classic
Teacupful of Roses Sharon Bell Mathis Drama
Tears of a Tiger Sharon Draper CF
Ten Little Indians Agatha Christie Mystery
Tex S.E. Hinton CF
That Was Then, This Is Now S.E. Hinton CF
Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas Classic
Tiger Eyes Judy Blume CF
Time Machine H. G. Wells SciFi
To Sir, With Love E. R. Braithwaite CF
Tom Sawyer Mark Twain Classic
Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson Classic
Tree Grows in Brooklyn Betty Smith HF
True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Avi CF
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Jules Verne SciFi / Classic
Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe Classic
Walk Across America Peter Jenkins Auto
Walk Two Moons Sharon Creech CF
Walkabout James Marshall Adv
War of the Worlds H. G. Wells SciFi
Watership Down Richard Adams Adv/Ani
Watsons Go to Birmingham Christopher P. Curtis HF
Wave Todd Strasser CF
West Side Story Irving Shulman Drama
Westing Game Ellen Raskin Mystery
When the Legends Die Hal Borland Adv
Where the Lilies Bloom Vera and Bill Cleaver CF
Where the Red Fern Grows Wilson Rawls CF
White Fang Jack London Ani/ Classic
Witch of Blackbird Pond Elizabeth Speare HF
Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte Classic
Yearling Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Ani

* Applied and Essentials only

Adv – Adventure
Ani – Animal
Auto – Autobiography
Bio – Biography
CF — Contemporary Fiction
Com – Comedy
Fan — Fantasy
HBio — Historical Biography
HF — Historical Fiction
Myth – Mythology
RF — Realistic Fiction
SciFi — Science Fiction

Hokay. I’m off to the “oldest continuously operated market house in the United States.” :-) They better have leeks.

School admins and whoever complained are kidding themselves if kids will be harmed by seeing boobies written on a bracelet.

I knew “dirty” words when I was six. The word “FUCK” became part of my vocabulary at the age of 10 although I was smart enough not to use it front of adults.

By the time I was 12 I was reading adult (not pron) books with “questionable” dialogue and sexual situations (although not really understanding them.) My parents didn’t mind (?) and actually encouraged me to read adult level books, but they weren’t happy with me when my mom found a couple of Playboys in my room when I was 13.

I don’t have a problem with adults wanting to protect kids from exposure to tacky, poorly designed merchandise sold by a “foundation” out of Carlsbad,Ca.

There are times when I love US America brashness and mouthiness.

This is one of those moments.

“Hang the Bankers”


@ManchuCandidate: My son, when he was about nine, asked me when cameras were invented. I said “sometime in the 1800s.” After a moment’s consideration, he said “No, those magazines in Perry’s bedroom talked about the girls in 415.”

Shawnee Middle School. Tecumseh was a Shawnee, right? First we wipe them out. Then we name schools after them.

@lynnlightfoot: Every time I go down the Carlisle Pike, I want to vomit. I might visit the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Haven’t decided.

When I lived in CA, I used to stop at all of the missions and politely lose my shit in the cemeteries. (If the mission is still standing, the cemeteries are usually amazing.) If the mission offered tours, I always asked the docent where the slaves were buried. “Slaves?” “Yes, the indigenous people the Spanish forced to work here–cooking, cleaning, making stuff the mission could sell–you know, the slaves. Where are they buried?”

Only one person ever had an answer for me. She said, “It’s horrible. If they were buried here, their graves, if marked, were marked with wooden crosses. Those have long since rotted away.”

@JNOV is like, 9 and 4 >:-/: I digitized some of Richard Henry Pratt’s letters for a project on the first Native American saint, http://digital.library.okstate.edu/Oakerhater/lettersTOC.html#RHP
I do understand the damage done to native culture by the assimilation movement (I spent considerable time on projects to preserve Native languages, e.g.), and I know about the abuses at many of the schools. What his letters make clear, however, is that this was really the only alternative to extermination (can’t really say genocide since most in American government saw Indians as sub-human). His actions had unintended negative consequences, but Pratt was not a bad person. He was radically liberal for his day and was honestly trying to save the tribes from being wiped out by Sherman and his ilk.
/retreats behind asbestos wall

@Mistress Cynica: Some of those kids would have rather died. In a sense, many did. IOW, many of those “saved” may have lived but were exterminated nonetheless.

ADD: And I’m not talking about losing their culture. It goes waaay beyond that. But as long as we have Pop Warner and Jim Thorpe, I guess the school served its purpose.

And I don’t give a shit if he was a good person or not. Same goes for Jefferson and his wacky agricultural schemes. Thank him for the fucking dust bowl.

@Mistress Cynica: There’s always an alternative. Always. Sometimes it’s even a better idea than The Only Alternative. It’s our fault if we’re too stupid to think of it/them.

Just because you read his letters and feel like you know the guy doesn’t mean you know the guy. You just know some of what he wrote.

@Mistress Cynica: You might want to let the library know there’s a typo on their site. ADD: Sorry. More than one. ADDDD: Links to letters are borked as well.

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