If socioeconomic status is a primary driver of academic performance, and if student achievement suffers in high-poverty schools, why do we continue to organize schools in a way that predetermines some for failure and then blame teachers? — John Savage, I taught at the worst school in Texas

The Battle Over ‘I Love Boobies’

image Last Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld an injunction prohibiting the Easton Area School District in Pennsylvania from enforcing a ban on “I Love Boobies! Save a Breast!” bracelets, the trendy bands that promote the Keep a Breast Foundation’s national breast cancer outreach and awareness campaign. But while a federal court may have found the bracelets protected under the First Amendment, the court of public opinion still takes issue with “I Love Boobies” and similar campaigns, with many people finding them toxic to the overall breast cancer conversation.

In its 9-5 decision, the federal court rejected the school district’s claim that the popular slogan is lecherous and disruptive, ruling that it provides commentary on a prevalent social issue. Particularly, Judge D. Brooks Smith wrote in his 74-page opinion for B.H. and K.M. v. Easton Area School District:

Schools cannot avoid teaching our citizens-in-training how to appropriately navigate the “marketplace of ideas.” Just because letting in one idea might invite even more difficult judgment calls about other ideas cannot justify suppressing speech of genuine social value.

“It’s a tremendous ruling supportive of student free speech,” Mary Catherine Roper, senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) and lead counsel in the case, told RH Reality Check. “What this ruling does is recognize that teenagers talk about important things, whether it’s political issues [or] social issues. That’s the type of speech we most want to protect.”

The August 7 judgment puts to bed years of litigation that began in November 2010, when the ACLU-PA filed a lawsuit challenging the Easton Area School District’s “I Love Boobies!” bracelet ban, claiming it infringed on students’ First Amendment right to free speech. The original suit was lodged on behalf of Easton Area Middle School students Kayla Martinez and Brianna Hawk, who were suspended in October 2010 for declining to adhere to the ban, which was imposed over a month after students started wearing the wristbands without incident. In rationalizing the interdict, the middle school asserted some students were made uneasy by human sexuality topics, others were “prompted” to make sexual innuendos, and some staff found them offensive, the lawsuit claims.

While, in 2011, a federal judge granted ACLU-PA’s request for an emergency injunction on the ban, the Easton Area School District appealed the enjoinment, arguing the message behind the Keep a Breast Foundation’s catchphrase could be misconstrued as “lewd” and potentially hinder school activities. To prove such, the district invoked both the Supreme Court’s 1986 decision in Bethel School District v. Fraser, which upholds that schools can restrict student speech if it is “vulgar, lewd, profane or plainly offensive” (meaning it offers no fundamental social or political value to a broader conversation), and 1969′s Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District,which states students have a constitutional right to free speech, but said speech can be regulated if a school proves it “materially and substantially interfere[s] with the requirements of appropriate discipline” in school operations. In its Monday decision, however, the Third Circuit found that the Easton Area School District could not prove either of its claims under these two edicts since the message is meant to stir constructive dialogue.

This is not the first time that “I Love Boobies” and similarly chest-centric breast cancer awareness campaigns, like the “Save the Ta-Tas” bumper stickers, have been subject to school bans. Moffat County School District in Colorado barred students from wearing Keep a Breast’s popular wristband in 2011, but rescinded the ban that year after pressure from the ACLU of Colorado. Sauk Prairie Middle School in Wisconsin also banned the same bracelets, and a federal court judge ruled in 2012 that it could continue to impose that ban. Wearing “I Love Boobies!” gear has also been prohibited at Laramie Junior High School in Wyoming (the ban was reversed), and at an Elmira, Oregon, high school, reports the Huffington PostSimilarly, two years ago, cheerleaders at an Arizona high school were banned from wearing t-shirtsbrandishing the slogan, “Feel for lumps, save your bumps,” in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“[The August 7 decision] is a really important rule for schools to follow. When they see a message that a student is conveying a message, is talking about something that is a social or political issue, they can’t go looking for a way to eventually sanitize that,” Roper told RH Reality Check.“This means that schools have to really confront the fact that kids are gonna talk about controversial issues. They need to make sure there’s room for that conversation to happen.”

But not everyone thinks “I Love Boobies!” is a message worth promoting. Last year, Jessica S. Holmes, a public voices fellow with the Op-Ed Project, opined at the Huffington Post that these “pink ribbon culture” movements present breast cancer as “a ‘sexy’ disease”—one that should be publicly represented by “young, intact, firm ta-tas in order to save them.” Holmes continued, “Cancerous breasts threaten idealized femininity and the eroticization of the female body, and these ‘awareness’ campaigns are no different from the over-sexualized and fetishized imagery in mainstream culture, which reduces a woman’s value to her body parts.”

read more—>

Two Legal Settlements Highlight Pervasive Problem of Pregnancy Discrimination

In the settlement, CUNY has agreed to adopt a new university-wide policy addressing the rights of pregnant and parenting students under Title IX, publish and disseminate that policy to its faculty, conduct training so that faculty members understand their obligations, and include the policy in the student handbook. CUNY also agreed to reinstate Stewart’s full-tuition scholarship and reimburse her for expenses she incurred taking an extra course this semester in order to graduate on time. The settlement will protect the rights of tens of thousands of parents and pregnant students in this sprawling New York City college system.
The entire CUNY system—spanning all five boroughs of New York City—has over 269,000 students this year. Women account for 58.4 percent of that student population, while approximately 15 percent of the student body are parents. But the national dropout rates among pregnant and parenting students are stark: 61 percent of women who have children after enrolling in community college do not graduate. This number is 65 percent higher than for women who do not have children while in college.
The second settlement involved claims between Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and Amy Crosby, a 30-year-old pregnant hospital cleaner in Tallahassee, Florida. NWLC filed a complaint last month with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Crosby’s behalf after Crosby was forced to take unpaid leave when the hospital refused to accommodate her doctor’s request that she not lift more than 20 pounds because of her pregnancy.

 “We are encouraged that the hospital and Amy Crosby have been able to resolve this matter,” Emily Martin, NWLC vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. “While the specific terms of the agreement are confidential, we are very pleased that as a result of their cooperation, Amy will be able to continue to work at the hospital. But it’s important to take note of the countless other pregnant women across the country—especially those working in low-wage jobs—who face discrimination on the job when they simply need a small adjustment or accommodation that would allow them to keep working. These women are often forced out on unpaid leave or simply fired, at the very moment they’re relying on their income and job security.”

Read more—>

Two Legal Settlements Highlight Pervasive Problem of Pregnancy Discrimination

In the settlement, CUNY has agreed to adopt a new university-wide policy addressing the rights of pregnant and parenting students under Title IX, publish and disseminate that policy to its faculty, conduct training so that faculty members understand their obligations, and include the policy in the student handbook. CUNY also agreed to reinstate Stewart’s full-tuition scholarship and reimburse her for expenses she incurred taking an extra course this semester in order to graduate on time. The settlement will protect the rights of tens of thousands of parents and pregnant students in this sprawling New York City college system.

The entire CUNY system—spanning all five boroughs of New York City—has over 269,000 students this year. Women account for 58.4 percent of that student population, while approximately 15 percent of the student body are parents. But the national dropout rates among pregnant and parenting students are stark: 61 percent of women who have children after enrolling in community college do not graduate. This number is 65 percent higher than for women who do not have children while in college.

The second settlement involved claims between Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and Amy Crosby, a 30-year-old pregnant hospital cleaner in Tallahassee, Florida. NWLC filed a complaint last month with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Crosby’s behalf after Crosby was forced to take unpaid leave when the hospital refused to accommodate her doctor’s request that she not lift more than 20 pounds because of her pregnancy.

 “We are encouraged that the hospital and Amy Crosby have been able to resolve this matter,” Emily Martin, NWLC vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. “While the specific terms of the agreement are confidential, we are very pleased that as a result of their cooperation, Amy will be able to continue to work at the hospital. But it’s important to take note of the countless other pregnant women across the country—especially those working in low-wage jobs—who face discrimination on the job when they simply need a small adjustment or accommodation that would allow them to keep working. These women are often forced out on unpaid leave or simply fired, at the very moment they’re relying on their income and job security.”

Read more—>

ALL Doctors should be required to train in all facets of reproductive health — including family doctors! Agree? Sign and spread the word.

A majority of U.S. women get their basic health care from a family physician or other primary care provider, and often that includes reproductive health care. Especially in rural and low-income areas, family physicians do it all! They not only provide birth control but also provide prenatal care, deliver babies, manage miscarriages, counsel patients about unintended pregnancies, and, increasingly, offer pregnancy termination so that their patients do not have to travel long distances and see unfamiliar doctors for these services.
ACGME’s motivations are legitimate:  It seeks to simplify the rules for the nation’s family medicine residency programs—numbering over 450—and to allow for more creativity and flexibility. In some areas of practice, this makes sense. Many programs will continue to teach contraception; it will depend on the culture of the institution. However, residency programs based in religiously-affiliated hospitals (which operate nearly 20 percent of inpatient community-hospital beds in the U.S.), will most likely drop birth control training immediately.
Because the ACGME currently requires birth control training, religiously-affiliated institutions must figure out a way to comply. Many rotate their residents through external clinics to learn these skills—which are essential since 99 percent of women in the United States who have ever had sexual intercourse have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning at some point in their lives. Without this requirement, residents in religiously-affiliated programs may get no training at all in contraception.

If you believe all FAMILY doctors should be trained on ALL parts of FAMILY PLANNING, click through to easily send an email.

ALL Doctors should be required to train in all facets of reproductive health — including family doctors! Agree? Sign and spread the word.

A majority of U.S. women get their basic health care from a family physician or other primary care provider, and often that includes reproductive health care. Especially in rural and low-income areas, family physicians do it all! They not only provide birth control but also provide prenatal care, deliver babies, manage miscarriages, counsel patients about unintended pregnancies, and, increasingly, offer pregnancy termination so that their patients do not have to travel long distances and see unfamiliar doctors for these services.

ACGME’s motivations are legitimate:  It seeks to simplify the rules for the nation’s family medicine residency programs—numbering over 450—and to allow for more creativity and flexibility. In some areas of practice, this makes sense. Many programs will continue to teach contraception; it will depend on the culture of the institution. However, residency programs based in religiously-affiliated hospitals (which operate nearly 20 percent of inpatient community-hospital beds in the U.S.), will most likely drop birth control training immediately.

Because the ACGME currently requires birth control training, religiously-affiliated institutions must figure out a way to comply. Many rotate their residents through external clinics to learn these skills—which are essential since 99 percent of women in the United States who have ever had sexual intercourse have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning at some point in their lives. Without this requirement, residents in religiously-affiliated programs may get no training at all in contraception.

If you believe all FAMILY doctors should be trained on ALL parts of FAMILY PLANNING, click through to easily send an email.

Ohio Lawmakers Work to Prohibit Teaching About “Gateway Sexual Activity” 
 an amendment to the budget passed by the committee yesterday would prohibit providing or distributing condoms or other contraceptives on school grounds and ban any instruction that promotes “gateway sexual activity.” Teachers or organizations that violate this ban could be subject to lawsuits by parents as well as a $5,000 fine.
 Ohio legislators provided a definition of “gateway sexual activity.”  And, because teenage sexual behavior is so bad as to be felonious, they took the language straight from the state’s criminal code. So schools cannot promote:

“…any touching of an erogenous zone of another, including without limitation the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or, if the person is a female, a breast, for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying either person.”

Ohio Lawmakers Work to Prohibit Teaching About “Gateway Sexual Activity”

 an amendment to the budget passed by the committee yesterday would prohibit providing or distributing condoms or other contraceptives on school grounds and ban any instruction that promotes “gateway sexual activity.” Teachers or organizations that violate this ban could be subject to lawsuits by parents as well as a $5,000 fine.

 Ohio legislators provided a definition of “gateway sexual activity.”  And, because teenage sexual behavior is so bad as to be felonious, they took the language straight from the state’s criminal code. So schools cannot promote:

“…any touching of an erogenous zone of another, including without limitation the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or, if the person is a female, a breast, for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying either person.”