EASTON, Pa. - While Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, the fight over "I (HEART) Boobies" bracelets is back in the spotlight in the Easton Area School District.
The debate started three years ago, when two students at Easton Area Middle School walked into school wearing those bracelets.
Brianna Hawk and Kayla Martinez were later supsended for sporting them.
Over the last few years, the girls and the school board faced off in various court proceedings. So far, the court system has sided with the girls.
But the school board is now taking it a step further. It voted seven to one on Tuesday night, to allow its solicitor to petition the case in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Most residents that 69 News spoke with on Wednesday feel the board is in the wrong.
It's a good cause but how far do we go?" asked Lori Steinfeld, an Easton resident.
"Too many things are being pushed out of schools now. I don't see that as American," said Robert Hulshizer, an Easton resident.
"I don't see any reason why the girls can not, or anyone interested in supporting that cause, can not support that cause, if it's wearing a bracelet, shirt or hat," said Helene Daniels-Lowery, an Easton resident who is fighting her own battle with cancer.
But school officials see it differently. They argue the bracelets are distracting and demeaning.
"There were several board members who may have not been happy with decision, but despite not being happy, we were comfortable," said Baron Vanderburg, a member of the Easton Area School Board.
Frank Pintabone was the only board member to vote "no."
"Ready to move on from. It began before I got on the board, in 2010," Pintabone said.
Pintabone believes it's a moot point, especially at a time when the district faces fiscal budget issues.
"We need to focus on educating our children and getting costs down," Pintabone said.
So far, the fight has cost the school district just over $23,000, according to Easton Area School District Solicitor John Freund. Freund said the theU-S Supreme Court appeal will cost another $3,000.
Molly Tack-Hopper, staff attorney for theThe American Civil Liberties Unition (ACLU) of Pennsylvania, released a statement to 69 News on Wednesday, following the school board's vote:
"The Court of Appeals got it right, and protected students' rights to discuss breast cancer in terms familiar and comfortable to them. We hope the Supreme Court will let the Court of Appeals' decision stand. Speech about important issues like breast cancer is at the core of what the First Amendment is supposed to protect."
Allentown, PA 18102