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Fate of ‘boobies’ bracelet before judge

ACLU challenged FWCS after item seized from student

– A lawsuit about whether a girl can wear an “I (heart) boobies” bracelet to school now awaits a decision from a judge.

The Indiana ACLU sued Fort Wayne Community Schools in May 2012 on behalf of an unnamed girl who was then a sophomore at an unnamed FWCS school.

She argued that her First Amendment rights to free speech were violated when school officials took the bracelet away.

The girl’s mother, identified as Julie Andrzejewski, is a breast cancer survivor and had bought the bracelet for her daughter as a gift.

School officials took the bracelet from the girl but later gave it back to her and told her she could no longer wear it to school.

ACLU attorneys argued the bracelet was neither disruptive to the school environment, nor was it lewd, vulgar, obscene or offensive – all factors that give schools the right to censor certain types of speech.

Other factors important in determining whether the bracelet should be allowed include the ages of the students seeing the wording and the meaning of the words as a whole, ACLU attorneys argued in a recent motion.

But FWCS attorneys argued the girl admitted the phrase could be viewed as lewd or offensive, which demonstrates the school did not violate her First Amendment rights.

They also argued that the age of the students is less important when schools are “regulating sexually charged speech,” according to court documents.

In March, the plaintiffs asked for a preliminary injunction that would allow her to continue to wear the bracelet. Both sides agreed to argue the case in briefs and during a hearing for the injunction.

On Monday, the case was heard by U.S. District Judge Joseph S. VanBokkelen in Hammond.

He took the matter under advisement and has yet to reach a decision, according to court records.

rgreen@jg.net

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