ROCKLIN, CA - A Rocklin High School sophomore faces disciplinary action for wearing a controversial bracelet that proclaims "I heart boobies," then refusing to turn it over to school officials.
Hunter Cooper, 15, said he wore the bracelet since the first day of school. His mother gave it to him after she picked it up from a doctor's office. For five months before that, he had the pink survivor bracelet from Susan G. Komen. Then last Friday, school officials spotted him with the black "boobies" bracelet and asked him to remove it.
"I'm wearing it in honor of my grandmother," said Cooper, who said his grandmother died before he was born. "I don't see it as an offensive thing at all."
The black bracelet with white lettering also trumpets other slogans, such as "wearing breast," "save the breast" and "keep a breast."
A Keep-A-Breast.org spokesperson said its breast cancer awareness campaign is targeting teens.
"This is a modern word, I think. I know plenty of people who use the word boobies," said Cooper.
"We support the cause 100 percent," said Rocklin principal Mike Garrison. He said several staff members at Rocklin High School have battled breast cancer.
"But, not the language on the bracelet," said Garrison. "When you use the term boobies, we find, and many people find, the term offensive and inappropriate. We find it inappropriate to be wearing it on school grounds."
Rocklin High officials asked Cooper to hand over the bracelet, but he refused. Cooper said he now faces Saturday school or one day of on-campus suspension for not complying.
A female student at Rocklin High reportedly attended Saturday school over the weekend and was disciplined after refusing to turn over her "I Heart Boobies" bracelet.
The principal would not discuss Cooper's case or confirm if Cooper faces disciplinary action. Principal Garrison would not discuss the other student's case either.
"We have not suspended any student or disciplined any student for wearing a bracelet or shirt that has that insignia on it," Garrison said.
"I guess I was being too defiant because I didn't hand it over," said Cooper. "I don't really think those are fair punishments."
Cooper said his grandmother died from breast cancer five months after his grandfather died from lung cancer. Several other family members and friends have battled cancer. Cooper owns various bracelets as a show of support-- including the well-known yellow Livestrong bracelet.
Cooper's mother said she was disappointed with the way the school and the district handled the issue.
"Without having a discussion and handing out penalties first, I think that's a real problem," said Danielle Cooper. "They need to inform us as parents. I'd like them to handle the subject matter as mature adults. I'd like the staff to take a stand, one way or another. If they banned (the bracelets), and why they banned them, we should receive notice."
Garrison said school administrators will be meeting Tuesday for a leadership meeting and will be discussing their position.
By Suzanne Phan, firstname.lastname@example.org
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