School changes policy on controversial bracelets

6:48 PM, Sep 23, 2011   |    comments
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WALDOBORO, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- School officials in Waldoboro have changed their rules, and will now allow high school students to wear controversial breast cancer awareness bracelets.

The bracelets are sold in many stores, and carry the slogan "I love boobies." They're marketed by a national group called the "Keep A Breast Foundation", which says it wants to increase awareness of breast cancer among young people.

An online news report from NBC estimates the Foundation sold two million of the bracelets in 2010. But when the bracelets started showing up at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, officials said they violated the school's dress code and were causing disruption-so they banned them. Several students have been suspended for refusing to take the bracelets off. Laurie Naum of Union, whose son was threatened with suspension, says she contacted a lawyer and the American Civil Liberties Union (AACLU).

An ACLU spokesperson told NEWS CENTER a recent federal court ruling stated that students have a free speech right to wear items like the bracelets in school. After discussing the issue further with the school district's lawyer, RSU 40 Superintendent Susan Pratt decided to change the policy, and allow students to wear the "I love boobies" bracelets, as long as they don't cause disruption. Pratt tells NEWS CENTER the school is very supportive of breast cancer research and other efforts to make people aware of the disease. She says the student council is about to begin a fundraising effort for breast cancer in partnership with the American Cancer Society - using that group's pink bracelets.

The ACS had no comment today about the Keep A Breast Foundation bracelets. A Maine spokesperson for the ACS says they don't know much about that foundation or its work. The website for the Keep A Breast Foundation says its goal is to increase awareness of breast cancer among young people. The NBC report on the organization says the Foundation only donates a small amount of money for cancer research. Instead, it says the Foundation focuses on funding promotions, events and outreach to get the cancer awareness message to young people.


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