Breast cancer awareness t-shirts banned at Kansas school

Filed under: Teens, In The News, Day Care & Education

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the shirt pictured here was designed to raise awareness with a sense of humor. Kelly Rooney, who died from breast cancer in 2006, came up with the idea and her family now sells the shirts online with 50% going to the Pennsylvania-based Kelly Rooney Foundation. I think the shirts are really quite clever and would have no problem wearing it in public. Would I want my teenage daughter wearing it? Probably not.

Haley Wenthe and Jessica Sheahon, seniors at Salina Central High School in Salina, Kansas, thought the shirts were clever as well and decided to have some printed up to sell along with other items as part of a community project through their school. Hoping to raise $10,000 to benefit the Tammy Walker Cancer Center and Hospice of Salina, the girls ordered 900 shirts in two different designs and planned to sell them at their high school's football game.

Initially, administrators at the school supported their efforts. The vice principal even offered to shave his head if the girls met their goal. But hours before the game, assistant principal Linn Exline pulled the plug, deeming the shirts inappropriate. Even when the girls agreed to inform buyers that the shirts couldn't be worn on campus, they were denied the opportunity to sell them.

Wenthe says she understands the decision, but thinks administrators are missing the point. "We're not trying to be dirty about it, but to have some humor, instead of a T-shirt saying how many people died from breast cancer last year," Wenthe said. "We thought if you want to educate students, you have to do it in a way that reaches them."

Of course, banning the shirts made them quite popular with the students and after the local newspaper editor agreed to take orders online, the girls found themselves with another problem. The original creator of the shirt, the Kelly Rooney Foundation, had an issue with the girls selling their copyrighted design and has asked them to stop. The girls have agreed and offered to give any money raised over and above their goal to the Rooney foundation.

So, it all ends well and it sounds like the girls are well on their way to reaching their goal. But the question remains - should high school girls be wearing a shirt that makes reference to breast fondling?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.