September 2nd, 2010
04:05 PM ET
Move it, Silly Bandz. There's another rubber bracelet getting students into trouble at schools.
Middle and high school students in South Dakota and central and northern California have been facing possible suspension and have had to remove their controversial bracelets that read “I heart boobies."In Rocklin, California, a high school sophomore could be suspended after he refused to hand over a black bracelet with the bosom-embracing slogan, according to CNN affiliate KXTV. The 15-year-old said he wore the black bracelet because his grandmother died from breast cancer. He told the station that he owns various bracelets as a show of support– including the well-known yellow Livestrong bracelet and the pink survivor bracelet from Susan G. Komen For the Cure.
Another school district in California does not allow students to wear the bracelets in class because its dress code specifically prohibits 'sexually suggestive language or images.' "That is why jewelry with sexually suggestive language like 'boobies' is not allowed on our campuses,” wrote Kelly Avants, the director of communications at the Clovis Unified School District. “Please understand that the issue is related specifically to the choice of language on these bracelets and the fact that it specifically violates our existing dress code policy.”
The school district supports worthy causes like breast cancer awareness in different activities such as T-shirt sales and volleyball matches, Avants added. Students wearing the bracelets have been asked to remove them until the end of the school day.
The schools in California are not the only ones asking students to leave the rubber bracelets at home. USA Today reported on a similar controversy in schools in South Dakota.
“We understand that some people find ‘I love boobies’ offensive,” said Kimmy McAtee, the spokeswoman for the Keep A Breast Foundation, the non-profit that makes the school contraband. “Many others find it refreshing in the sea of pink ribbons. We’re really taking a positive style of communication and taking something scary and taboo, and making it positive and upbeat.”
Keep A Breast has sold more than 2 million bracelets, she said. The bracelets proclaiming love for breasts began five years ago and started becoming controversial in February as kids started wearing them to school. The buzz died down during the summer and picked back up when school started, McAtee said.
“Tell kids they’re not allowed to wear something, they’ll buy five of them,” she said.
The slang doesn’t offend Donna Charpied, a two-time breast cancer survivor who had a double mastectomy in 2006.
“I think everybody loves boobies,” Charpied, of Manorville, New York, said. “If the end result is a positive thing for the cause, that’s a good thing. I don’t find it offensive at all.” Read more about Charpied.
The bracelets are meant to reach youth.
“We feel the best ways to prevent cancer is to start young and to educate them at that age when they’re developing breasts and starting to learn about bodies,” McAtee said.
Surely some of the kids are wearing the bracelets to get a giggle, instead of spreading breast cancer awareness, McAtee conceded.
"If it gets the conversation started, we’ve done our part,” she said.
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