EASTON, Pa. – First it was boobies, now it’s condoms.
The Easton Area School Board recently lost a three year legal battle after district administrators attempted to ban students from wearing “I ♥ Boobies” cancer awareness bracelets, and was forced to pay nearly a half million in legal fees.
Now the board is reviewing its policy on school advertising, and seem dumbfounded over whether or not to allow condom companies to advertise at the district’s schools.
At a meeting Tuesday, board members reviewed a recommended policy that would restrict lewd, vulgar, obscene, pornographic or illegal ads, but board member Matt Monahon questioned where condoms fit into the equation, LehighValleyLive.com reports.
“If I were in Trojan’s shoes I would say my product is neither lewd nor obscene nor vulgar nor pornographic,” Monahon said before suggesting the proposed policy also include a ban on ads “of a sexual nature,” according to the news site.
“I’m not trying to cause problems. I just want to make sure we’re no leaving these things open,” he said.
Monahon’s concern likely stems from the “I ♥ Boobies” debacle. School officials banned the bracelets on the grounds that they were offensive, but the courts disagreed and sided with two girls who sued the district over their suspension for promoting breast cancer awareness.
The three-year legal saga concluded recently with the district on the hook for $385,000 in legal fees incurred by the girls, who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as another $110,000 for its own legal expenses.
During Tuesday’s condom debate, school officials acknowledged that some of the district’s high schools distribute condoms to students, which obviously further erodes their losing argument that boobies are offensive.
Board president Frank Pintabone argued that condom ads aren’t offensive, and teen sex is just a part of school.
“It’s a reality of life,” he said, according to the news site. “Do you know how many students we have pregnant?”
Monahon said, “there are parents within the district who wouldn’t want this advertised to their children.”
Board member Robert Obey suggested the superintendent should have discretion over ads, but district solicitor John Freund alluded that the boobie debacle taught school officials that discretion isn’t always the best policy.
The boobie bracelet lawsuit was filed when an administrator used his discretion to prohibit them on school grounds, and centered on the offending girls’ First Amendment rights.
“Our discretion means nothing under the First Amendment,” Monahon grumbled.
Board members ultimately decided to push off their discussion about the district advertising policy until their next meeting.