Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Schools Run Interference on Cleats and Boobies

The NFL helped raise breast cancer awareness by wearing pink cleats and other accessories during their games throughout October. 

Post by: Noel Jones

What do football cleats and boobies have in common?

a) they can be pink  
b) they can raise breast cancer awareness   
c) they can get you suspended   
d) they can inspire a lawsuit that is expensive to taxpayers
d) all of the above

In response to my earlier post about the "I (heart) Boobies" bracelet controversy raging in our school district, a reader recently sent me an article by Ryan Wilson of Fanhouse.com that tells the story of a high school football player in Mississippi, who decided to follow the example of the NFL's breast cancer awareness campaign last month, in which players and coaches wore pink cleats and other accessories in partnership with The American Cancer Society to raise breast cancer awareness. So he started wearing pink football cleats to practice in honor of his 82 year-old grandmother, a breast cancer survivor, who gave them to him as a gift, and got kicked off the team by his coach. Way to go, Coach. And the school threatened to not allow him to graduate, because he won't have the PE credit necessary, now that he's been kicked off the team. Way to go, Principal. Naturally, this brought on a freedom of expression law suit by the teen's parents, which apparently was settled. Well, according to today's article by Elizabeth Crisp at the The Clarion Ledgerthe coach decided to get even, and didn't allow the kid to dress out for the next football game, saying he had missed too many practices--even though it was the coach who hadn't allowed him to practice. Needless to say the lawsuit is ongoing. Way to go, school district! Mississippi taxpayers must love that.

The Easton Area School District, in their infinite provincial stubbornness, is heading local taxpayers for a similar legal bill because they are still insisting on their right to suspend two tweens at Easton Middle School for wearing the infamous "I (heart) Boobies" bracelets to raise breast cancer awareness as part of the Keep A Breast Foundation's national campaign

Read the latest in Colin McEvoy's Express-Times article here, and post a comment! And get your wallets out while you're at it, because the EASD just can't seem to help themselves from spending more and more of our money on legal fees in the middle of a recession. If you want to put a stop to this, come to the school board meeting THIS THURSAY, 6:30PM, at the Easton Area Education Center, 1801 Bushkill Drive, and SPEAK UP.


Anonymous said...

I won't get drawn into this debate again, I happen to think that the school district is correct. It pains me to say that I agree with the EASD because on most matters I do not.

Just as a matter of reference. 1.4% of the money raised by these bracelets goes to actual research.

noel jones said...

Anon--thanks for the info, but please back that up--where does the other 98.6% go if not to research, and where are you getting that information?

Anonymous said...

The articles are all over the internet, news, newspapers, etc. about the 1.4 %.

Here's a link to one:


noel jones said...

here is a great article from the New York Times that a reader on the school district's side of the issue sent me:


i would love to get reader feedback on this. what do you think?

noel jones said...

Anon--thanks for the link!

noel jones said...

Anon--ok, i read the article you posted--thanks for that. first of all, it sounds like the Keep a Breast Foundation is an advocacy and education org, so they never promised to give the money to research, but rather to continue to raise awareness. secondly, they have started giving money to research, but because of the overnight success of this tiny nonprofit, they are struggling with the administrative side of researching the possible beneficiaries and doing all the necessary tracking that has to be set up for their nonprofit in advance of giving any research team money.

it would be more accurate to say that only 1.4% of the money raised has gone to research so far, rather than "only 1.4% of the money raised by these bracelets goes to actual research" which makes it sound like they are not working on that, when the article clearly states that they are.

still, i don't why in the meantime, while they investigate various potentials recipients, they couldn't just give a big chunk to The American Cancer Society and direct it to be allocated to breast cancer research specifically. then they would be free to research other programs over the next year free of scrutiny.

in the end, they haven't misrepresented themselves. they have said from the beginning that the money was for raising breast cancer awareness.

Anonymous said...

Read this editorial in the Express Times. 100% dead on correct.


noel jones said...

it's a good debate. i still don't think "boobies" is a vulgar word, nor that the campaign trivializes breast cancer--it raises awareness--and raises money for public education and research to combat the disease.

as members of a community that has apparently suffered for decades from a lack of civic engagement, i think that we should be doing everything to support and reward youth in our community who demonstrate civic engagement in any form, not telling them they are bad kids by suspending them.

this could have been handled very differently by the school. teachers, parents and students could have come together in a positive way to praise the kids for their initiative and discuss concerns about the campaign. it could have been a terrific opportunity to open other important conversations among the student body about activism, civic engagement, effective campaigning, body issues, sexual harassment, freedom of expression, gender issues, etc.

i really feel that this lawsuit is the result of the knee-jerk authoritarian response of teachers and administrators from a generation that thinks any mention of breasts is offensive, which contributes to the old idea that women and girls should be ashamed of their breasts, which is really just a projection of guilt for how men feel about women's breasts.

as the breast cancer survivor who wrote the NYTimes article admitted, although she is against the "boobies" campaign, she recognizes that we have made progress as a society when a young woman feels perfectly ok saying "it's for breast cancer" as twenty years ago it would have been whispered out of shame, or avoided altogether.

even if the argument of the district is that rules are rules for a reason, the "because i said so" explanation never earns the respect of kids and does not, as we have seen here, result in successfully controlling their behavior--it just adds the fuel of righteous indignation to the fire. it is important that rules make sense to the kids bound by them--whether they like the rules or not, the rules must make logical sense to garner respect, and right now it seems to feel to them to be "no for no reason," which is a lazy rationale that kids (and adults) never respect.

this could have been handled much better by the school and district, and didn't need to end up in court costing the taxpayers money.

tachitup said...

The E-T editorial put it much more eloquently than I did. Nobody disputes the good of the bracelets intent to raise awareness.
At issue is whether 12-13 yr olds can decide which rules they choose to follow. There will always be bad rules, so get them changed. If you choose to disobey, there will be consequences. Rosa Parks chose to disobey a bad rule knowing there would be consequences. These kids should quit whining about a minor consequence and should start working to change the rule.
Let's hope the court scenario in the E-T comes to pass.

noel jones said...

i would rather see the case dropped before it gets to court at all because the school reaches out to kids and parents to work it out in a positive way instead of in the context of punishing civic engagement...

Anonymous said...

A 12 or 13 year old wearing a boobies bracelet is "civic engagement".

That's hilarious.

Making this some kind of debate against the establishment is laughable.

It's a bunch of kids getting a kick out of wearing a bracelet that says "Boobies". It has nothing to do with breast cancer awareness, civic engagement, etc.

Debating this and trying to make these kids and parents seem like some sort of civil rights martyrs is a joke.

When does it all end? Can I wear a shirt to work that says I heart co&*s to support testicular cancer.

C'mon people, the first amendment doesn't say we can say or do anything we please.

These are 12-13 year old kids. What are they going to do when they get a job and are told to dress and act professionally???

Call mom & dad to defend them, file a lawsuit???

Put all of this in it's proper perspective and try to not make it into a national debate. It's just not that complicated.

It's all about common sense, but as we all know that's just not a common trait among people anymore.

noel jones said...

i really don't understand why anyone would be so quick or so certain as to say that the kids in the middle of these suits don't really care about breast cancer. the suits are nationwide, so it is a national freedom of expression debate going on.

do you really think that the kid in mississippi whose cancer survivor grandmother gave him pink cleats as a gift, was not wearing them in her honor to raise awareness? and if he cared, why would anyone assume these girls don't care?

maybe they don't--maybe they're just brats causing trouble. but until i've met them i'm not going to accuse them of not caring about the cause that is getting them suspended. and it doesn't change the fact that the Keep A Breast Foundation was started IN A SCHOOL in California by teachers and students who care about the cause.

noel jones said...

reminder: the school board meeting is tonight (Thurs) 6:30PM, at the Easton Area Education Center, 1801 Bushkill Drive

Tim Pickel said...

You may disagree with this Noel but I believe the EASD is correct in their actions. Adding to that statement, I believe the parents of the girls did them a great injustice.

Rules are rules. We don't have to like them but they are there for a purpose. For the parents of the girls to say to them it is alright to break them is utter idiocy. Perhaps the better response would be to have discussed why the rules were there in the first place and how they could grow by respecting them.

A parent must guide their child to respect authority and what avenues they have if that authority is abusive. When they condone the breaking of rules they teach a negative lesson that will perpetuate the disrespect for authority.

noel jones said...

Thanks for posting, Tim. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. That's okay, that's what makes a debate a debate.

It looks like the latest is that the court case still remains to be settled, but in the meantime the judge has ordered the school to allow the girls to go to the dance:


Tim Pickel said...

So there you have it. Mom has taught her daughter a valuable lesson. "Don't worry about rules sweetheart. You can break them and you can still go to the dance. You see sweetheart, you are special and rules aren't made for you. Mommy will see that you get everything you want."

I predict good old mom will have her hands full in the very near future when her little sweetheart doesn't like a rule mom makes. Then comes the scramble to explain which rules are right and which are wrong.

This whole drama is more about a spoiled little brat and a enabling mom than breast cancer.

noel jones said...

Tim, I see it another way--that the conversation could be, "See sweetheart--when you want to fight a rule that you think is unjust, you should do so through peaceful civil disobedience, and you have to know that you do so at the risk of consequences. Then you will have to fight for your rights when you appeal those consequences, in an attempt to get the rule overturned. You may win, but you may lose. Weigh the consequences beforehand and decide whether the issue means enough for you to put your neck on the line. This is how everything from women's suffrage to the civil rights movement achieved what it did--this is just one small example of the stress and commitment it will take to fight for justice on bigger issues in the future as an adult citizen in our society."

Now, like I said before, these kids may just be uncaring brats. But I would never assume that without meeting them, and I haven't met them or seen them speak up in a public forum yet, like a school board meeting, for instance.

When I was their age I cared very deeply about social issues, and so I can't assume that other girls don't have the same capacity for caring, without meeting them.

g_whiz said...

Apparently pink cleats and "boobies" bracelets is hearlalding the end of times and breast cancer awareness is spiking trends in delinquency...all I ever read around here is strawman arguments.

"I believe the parents of the girls did them a huge injustice because they did something I disagree with..." Well, you have the right to sound off about it in a message board, but none here are privy to the overall dialouge or life lessons these parents are teaching their children beyond what the article conveys. Hopefully in the future these parents will sign their children over to you to be diciplined, as they'll likely turn into choosy, spoiled brats who will at some point decide which rules they like or dislike otherwise...

Cathy said...

I am not for respecting authority or that being something to instill in kids. As an educator, that notion is frightening and antidemocratic to me. Authority is something rigid and resides in a person who holds it over other persons. The possibility of "authority" attracts the wrong type. Too many emotionally undeveloped adults are already lording their "authority" over all of us. Rather, teach kids to know the rules. And to understand the why of the rule. Teach kids to know their rights. When rules and rights clash there are many processes that can lead to a reconciliation or a change. In this case, many processes have been offered up. Lawsuit should be last choice but its seems it was the first.

noel jones said...

Good point, Cathy--thanks for posting.