NSBA urges high court to review “I Heart Boobies” case

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), joined by other leading education groups and a state school boards association, is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to accept Easton Area Sch. Dist. v. B.H for review and to reverse the appellate court’s decision as contrary to well-established Supreme Court precedent.

The case focuses on a school district decision to require two female  students at a Pennsylvania middle school  to remove bracelets with the slogan, “I  ♥ Boobies KEEP A BREAST,” because of reports that the bracelets were causing a distraction for students, including instances of possible sexual harassment.

NSBA is joined by AASA, the School Superintendents Association; the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) in asking the Supreme Court to reverse the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and reaffirm that school officials have authority to determine that messages such as “I Y Boobies” disrupt the school environment and interfere with the rights of others.

“NSBA is representing the voices of parents and others who want their children focused on education and protected from lewd speech while attending public schools,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “This important amicus brief urges the Supreme Court to recognize the authority of school officials to regulate student speech during the school day if such speech disrupts the school environment or interferes with the responsibility of schools to teach civil discourse as an inherent democratic value and to protect the rights and sensibilities of other students.”

“The Third Circuit ruling forces school officials to jettison educational judgments for highly legalistic ones in a way that jeopardizes the day-to-day work of public schools and potentially harms students,” said NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. “This ruling misreads Supreme Court precedent recognizing that school officials have the authority to determine what is appropriate speech in schools and to limit student expression that is contrary to their educational mission.”

The appellate court introduced a new standard that conflates language from two separate Supreme Court cases in a way that leaves school officials subject to litigation and restricts their ability to maintain harassment-free school environments. It replaces well-established precedents with a legally complex test that requires school officials to discern whether the student speech is “plainly lewd” or “ambiguously lewd.” If the speech falls into the latter category, it may not be regulated if it could be interpreted as political or social commentary.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 6th, 2014|Categories: Discipline, Federal Advocacy, Governance, Leadership, School Law|Tags: , |


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  2. Terri Ellinwood says:

    I feel the girls wearing those bracelets had every right. It was for a good cause and it was a bracelet..It is not like it was a shirt. We need to let the kids stand up for things they believe in… Taking there right of freedom of speech is not what this good country was founded on….We are losing are rights a little every day…Look at what Thomas Jefferson has quoted…We want our children to learn they live in a free country and should be able to voice their opinions in school..A bracelet is something that is not that noticeable and feel the district was out of line…My opinion…

  3. I was expelled from a private school in Louisiana for bringing Sex Wax to school. Sex Wax is a very popular brand of surfboard wax that I used often when I was living in Santa Barbara, California the year before. I graduated high school in 2000 and this was my freshman year, so around 1997. It was so insane and inane. My parents were so baffled they didn’t even get mad at me, they were just like “what the heck?” No matter what we tried to say or do the crazy principal was stubborn and said I was not welcome back. I went on to graduate from a different school and got a full academic scholarship to Tulane for Biomedical Engineering. I am now a successful business owner, entrepeneur, and work at the University. Just goes to show how there is no justice without mercy and compassion and that these types of expulsions are incredibly stupid.

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