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Mar 17, 2009

Spring break is traditionally a time for high school, middle school and college students to celebrate a week away from classes. Many "hang" with friends, visit Minneapolis or even spend time at Lake Superior. But it can be a time for getting into trouble.

Some Norwood Young America students put up a banner proclaiming "Go Topless for PETA on Spring Break." That message in support of the animal rights organization was seen Monday by students and faculty at Central High School/Middle School in Norwood Young America, MN. The banner, which had a school-approved message on the other side, was quickly removed by school officials.

PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal rights organization known for using nudity for publicity. But two students who admitted under condition of anonymity to turning the banner over said they were working independently.

"It was our idea, not PETAs," said a 17-year-old high school girl who planned the display.

"But they said it was a good one," said her co-planner, a 13-year-old middle school girl.

Several days before, students had hung a banner in the main school hallway that proclaimed, "Have Fun But be Safe on Spring Break." But authorities and most students didn't know that the back of the banner had a very different message.

"Someone turned the banner around right before lunch time," said school district official Robert Abrams. "The first message was on the other side, so it was definitely the same banner. Obviously, the students who put it up knew what they were doing."

"It's not bad enough our kids are being exposed to sex on the Internet. Now it's at school," said Alice Mayfield, an anti-sex education activist and mother of a son who attends the middle school. "If they kept as good control of our kids at school as we do at home, we wouldn't have this kind of trouble."

School officials wouldn't comment on what actions they planned to take against the students who pulled the stunt. But the young activists did have some supporters.

"Anything that gets attention for animals is good," said 17-year-old vegetarian senior Robert Johnson. "America is a nation of abusers and people eat the carcasses of abused animals. It's time to stop it!"

A teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity had this to say. "They were exercising their right to free speech. Whether you agree with their cause or not, it's their right. The Constitution guarantees freedom of speech to all citizens, not just adults."

But sophomore Patricia Riley disagreed. "Baring your boobs for baboons? How's that going to help?"

External linksEdit

Topless Banner Controversy at School

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