A breast-cancer awareness bracelet bears the message “I ♥ Boobies”. The question asked to a Federal Court of Appeals is whether, when that message is worn in school by middle-school students, it is still a health/wellness message, or whether it takes on a lewd nature. The question was left to the courts because, if viewed as a public health message, the bracelets are protected by the First Amendment and the school cannot prevent students from wearing them. But if they are “plainly lewd” to the point of disrupting the scholarly environment, they may be banned from the premises. (It is as always a little more complicated, but that captures the essence of the argument.)
It took over 100 pages for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to decide that the bracelets could not be banned, acknowledging in passing the difficulty of guiding students through the marketplace of ideas, and over the objection that the trinkets were little more than an exercise in sexual innuendos and double entendres. The Supreme Court has now been asked to step in. The final answer may well have to wait a bit longer to be heard.