A headline I saw on the Baltimore Sun website this week read, "Utah schools bans 'I Heart Boobies' Bracelets". As I scrolled down the Sun's homepage, almost directly under this headline was a photo captioned, "Raven's Eye Candy 2010." The image is of three Ravens cheerleaders, wearing halter tops that frame their cleavage and the center point of the photo is one woman's breasts. I went from reading about the banning of boobie bracelets to an image of a woman's breasts and I could not ignore the irony.

At first I thought that the bracelets were a lewd joke, but after reading the article, I realized that the bracelets are a tool for breast cancer awareness. I wrote a whole paragraph on the trends of youth mirroring the trends in society, but then realized there was more to the story. The school is quoted in the article as saying, 
"wearing bracelets such as these opens up dialog between students that most adolescents are neither sophisticated nor mature enough to handle appropriately. By disallowing them, we are eliminating the temptation to have inappropriate and potentially sexually harassing conversations." Some adolescents have breasts, some of them have sex, some of them know people who have had breast cancer, all of them are bombarded with images of breasts in the media and yet this school is claiming that most adolescents are not sophisticated or mature enough to talk about any of these things. Yes, some teenagers will make a joke out of "I heart boobies" bracelets, but instead of banning them, if schools were really invested in education, wouldn't they take the opportunity to use them as a means of helping young people find the language to talk about such things. Instead of banning, hiding and making conversations about sexuality shameful what if schools used this moment to have a dialogue? Wouldn't that address both the awareness of cancer and the potentially lewd comments that the bracelets evoke? And it would be an even better conversation for young people about how people interpret what one chooses to wear and for the students who are wearing them to support people they know with cancer a chance to practice communicating things that are really important to them.