I spent Mother’s Day taking a 3 hour drive to drop off flowers at my mother’s grave. For those of you who don’t know, she died of breast cancer. She didn’t have any in her actual breast this time. She did the first time, ten years before her second battle with the deadly disease. The second time around, breast cancer cells had migrated into her brain and lungs. They gave her six months to live and she fought for nearly two years. That was two years ago.
A week after I placed those flowers I’m saddened and angered to find out the school board in Oshawa, Ontario, (the city where we lived) is in essence, banning a breast cancer awareness campaign.
I’m previously from Oshawa, I’ve dealt with the Durham District School Board’s policies as both a student and as the parent of a student. I can’t say it surprised me when I read in this article on MSN about their decision to ban the “I Love Boobies” bracelets.
Naturally, as a child who lost a parent to breast cancer, I am disgusted with their decision. The reason behind it? I’m sure they’ll give tons of other reasons because that’s the kind of responsible educators these administrators are. I’m sure it falls under their rule about inappropriate words on clothing, which is part of their dress code. This same dress code stipulates that all skirts or shorts must reach below fingertips when standing upright when arms and shoulders are relaxed. Try that test out yourself and you’ll see how short these skirts and shorts are. I have long arms and if this was my guideline for choosing shorts they would barely cover my buttcheeks while standing, never mind bending over. But the main reason is the word “Boobies”. Yeah, BOOBIES. Not TITS, or KNOCKERS, or MILK CANS, or any of the numerous other nicknames for our lovable mammary glands. Boobies. Before I was taught to their were called, BREASTS, I was told they were called BOOBIES.
The bracelets also say BREAST on them as part of the breast cancer awareness campaign’s slogan to catch attention and encourage education. Click here to find out more about the campaign. Thanks to The Keep A Breast Foundation, a breast cancer campaign is finally targeting a portion of the populace that is often portrayed as the family of breast cancer victims instead of potential victims themselves. TKABF should be applauded and encouraged instead of stomped on by so-called educators who claim they are looking out for the best interests of their students.
In Canada, supporters of the Public School system often criticize Christian home schoolers for not educating their children on topics of sex and same-sex relationships. Talk about hypocrisy. The I Love Boobies campaign has as much to do with the health of these children as teaching tolerance and understanding of STDs or Homosexuality. Because I’m sure the numbers are nothing like they should be, I want to encourage teens (both female and male) to take part in my polling to find out how many of them are performing self-exams on themselves. Take the poll, click here. The first time my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was 16. I knew nothing about what breast cancer was, how it was treated or what the survival rate was. I was lucky that my mother was a nurse and was capable of answering my questions. The Durham Highschool I was attending at the time was aware of my mother’s illness and never once was I asked if I wanted to speak to the school counsellor about it or asked if I had any questions. Nothing. When my grades fell from stress and depression, they didn’t ask me why. When I skipped school because I couldn’t cope, they didn’t ask me why. They gave me detention and threatened suspension. That’s how the schools in Durham dealt with these issues a decade ago. I’m not surprised not much has changed.
I’m left wondering, if this campaign existed while I was still in school and my mother had died back then — instead of two years ago — from breast cancer, would they have denied me the right to show my love and support for her, and a campaign aimed at preventing further deaths by wearing at bracelet with the word Boobies on it? Because I’m sure there are teens at Durham high schools who are coping with the recent diagnosis of a loved one and they ARE being denied this right.
I’m sure there are kids wearing these bracelets for negative reasons, but instead of educating them, the Durham Board is punishing children seeking education and showing support for breast cancer sufferers/survivors.
I’m putting out a call to everyone who has been diagnosed with or has a loved one diagnosed with breast cancer, or has lost someone to breast cancer, to contact the Durham Board and protest this decision. I’m posting a template of what I recommend each of you should say in asking them to reverse this decision. Please be polite, respectful but passionate. Don’t damage our efforts by being mean or abusive. That kind of attitude is no better than their banning.
You can write to them at
400 Taunton Road East, Whitby, ON, Canada, L1R 2K6
Or call them at (905) 666-5500 or 1-800-265-3968
Fax them at (905) 666-6474
I also encourage residents of Canada, especially the province of Ontario to write their MPs, MPPs and if you live in Durham Region, your municipal representative, to ask them to make a change to this ban put in place by the Durham Board.
Please take a minute to vote in my poll on breast cancer self-screening.
Let your voice be heard! Since when is “Boobies” a bad word?
P.S. Please feel free to add your personal experience with breast cancer to your call or letter to the Durham Board. Let them know why this banning hurts.
Call or Letter template:
Hello, this is (state your name) and I am calling after hearing about the Durham District School Board’s decision to ban The Keep A Breast Foundation bracelets. This decision greatly upsets and disturbs me. I believe you are giving the wrong message to kids about educating themselves about breast cancer. I think the Durham Board of Education should be embracing this campaign and its message instead of shunning it. I’m asking that your administration reconsider this decision and instead use this as an opportunity to set aside class time for discussion and education for both female and male students. This is a time for teaching respect for women and awareness about a disease that affects men and women of all ages. If you choose not to reverse this decision, I would consider it a show of disrespect to the students and families in your district who are affected by breast cancer. I hope you will consider what kind of message you are sending to the children who have lost a mother or father to breast cancer. In banning the “I Love Boobies” bracelets, you are stripping them of the right to grieve and cope by doing something positive about it.
Thank you for your time. It is my hope you will apologize for this misguided decision and do the right thing.