Breast cancer bracelets cause dispute at Othello school

OTHELLO -- A controversy at Othello High School has pitted parent David Castro against school officials on the right to wear a pink breast cancer awareness bracelet.

The dispute has nothing to do with finding a cure for cancer, but everything to do with the bracelet's slogan -- "I love boobies."

Castro said his sons Alex, 16, and Buck, 14, were told by school authorities that they couldn't wear the bracelets to school because some teachers and students found the wording "offensive" or too "provocative."

Buck Castro feels strongly about wearing his bracelet because he witnessed a good friend watch his grandmother battle the deadly disease.

"That was very hard for him," Buck Castro said. "This bracelet represents the strength and hope it takes to fight breast cancer and I totally support that."

Alex feels the same.

"I like wearing this bracelet because it's for such a good cause," he said. "It's wrong that the school refuses to let us wear them, even inside out."

The "I love boobies" bracelets are part of a breast cancer awareness campaign created by the Keep-A-Breast Foundation to attract more young people to breast cancer awareness.

But even though the marketing worked and thousands of youngsters from elementary to high schools are wearing them, the choice of words has caused a stir in schools nationwide.

Castro's sons chose not to attend school in protest of the school's policy. Castro and his wife Victoria support their decision.

"Buck is an honor student and to miss school over this was not an easy decision for him to make," Castro said. "It's not right that the school can forbid them to wear those bracelets, which are important to them. And I will take this matter up with the school board."

The district's dress code policy states that any clothing that insinuates a sexual message is not allowed, explained Superintendent George Juarez.

"We haven't made a decision yet about allowing the bracelets to be worn inside out," Juarez said. "It's one thing to support such a noble cause like breast cancer awareness, but in today's culture there are still those who find (the wording on the bracelet) offensive. Everyone is entitled to their own perspective, and we have a board policy in place that must be addressed."

Juarez said he welcomes Castro's comments at the next school board meeting Oct. 25.

In the meantime, the Castro boys will continue their protest by doing their school work from home until next week, when they may decide to return to school.

"You know, I let my boys make their own decision about wearing the bracelets or not," David Castro said. "I just don't understand why people don't see the advantage of the big picture here because everyone in my family totally supports this cause."