Arizona High School Bans Cheerleaders’ Breast Cancer Awareness T-Shirts

Arizona’s Gilbert High School has told its cheerleaders that they can’t wear their pink t-shirts to raise money for breast cancer awareness to school football games, dubbing them “out of bounds” for what’s appropriate in a school setting. The girls say they just want to wear the shirts, which say “Gilbert Cheer” on the front and “Feel for lumps, save your bumps” on the back, to raise money for a good cause, and don’t consider them inappropriate. And frankly, we find it a lot more offensive to ban a discussion of women’s health from high schools than to use the word “bumps.”

“We’re not saying anything a doctor wouldn’t say,” said Natalie Skowronek, a 17-year-old junior and varsity cheerleader at Gilbert. But school officials have banned them from football games, where the cheerleading team planned to wear them and ask the crowd for donations, despite having approved the fundraising efforts. The school’s Principal, J. Charles Santa Cruz, told the cheer club:

In no way is the school administration against Breast Cancer Awareness Month or initiatives students might take in support of it; we just want to make sure we’re in the bounds of appropriate boundaries of a school setting.

And Gilbert, Arizona isn’t the first place where officials have taken issue with talking about breast cancer in school. Several states have banned popular “I heart boobies” rubber bracelets, sold by the non-profit Keep A Breast Foundation whose mission is to raise awareness in young people, because administrators think the language is inappropriate.

Perhaps some parents feel differently, but I don’t think referring to breasts as “bumps” or “boobies” is especially explicit. And what kind of message are we sending teenagers by deciding that talking about women’s health in cutesy terms is somehow lewd and inappropriate?

Photo: Arizona Republic

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    • Kim Foster, MD

      Well…I see what you’re saying. But, let’s be honest, it is pretty sexually suggestive wording they’ve selected. I know they used euphemistic words like lumps and bumps, but we all know what they’re talking about. An invitation to feel breasts, turning up on the t-shirts of high school cheerleaders? Hmm. As a parent, I’m not sure I’m in love with that idea. As a physician, of course I’m in favor of fundraising for breast cancer, big-time! But maybe it could be done in a slightly less titillating way? Aren’t young girls already sexualized enough?

      • Pedro of Puerto Rico

        I like your reply. Maybe next time a little more thinking on fundraising for school (not the funny sexual side) would help. Also these kids are not mature enough to think fundraiser for schools. This type of fundraising (funny and sexual) would work somewhere else.

    • Briana Rognlin

      I respect your opinion, and I’m not pretending to be oblivious just for the sake of argument, but I just don’t see the shirts as sexual at all.

      The visual is a big pink ribbon; the language is a cutesy, memorable rhyme that could actually be a helpful reminder for young women to administer a self-exam. To me, they’re taking the opportunity to both fundraise AND educate; I don’t read it as a sexually suggestive invitation to feel anyone’s breasts but your own.

      There’s no way around the fact that a self exam involves feeling your breasts to check for lumps; if our message to teens is that it’s sexual and inappropriate, then even fewer girls and young women are going to feel comfortable with giving themselves self-exams. Shaming teen girls feel for discussing women’s health in public–or at all–sends a really discouraging message for young women who are trying to be proactive about their health.

      Also–does anyone else remember high school cheer? If this t-shirt is out of bounds for their age, as the principal put it, then I can’t imagine what he thinks of their short skirts and dance routines! Food for thought.

    • Rebecca

      Two questions are you people retarded and are you reading the same shirt I am There is nothing sexual about this shirt If it makes you feel like you have to feel some one elses breast than you have serious problem. Horay for the cheerleaders for doing something that a doctor would tell them to do any way. Haveing breast cancer has nothing to do with how sexual you are any woman can get it. And are we serious going back to the dark ages when it was shamefull for women to discuss and be aware of there own health issue are we gonna start keeping pregnant women off tv agian too? Get a life wake up way more serious things to be worried about in this world. PS Id love to order a few of these shirts for me and my girlfriends!