A three-year-old deaf boy from Nebraska received a notice from school officials to change the way he signs his name because it resembles a gun.
Hunter Spanjer’s family was told by Grand Island Public Schools that the deaf child could no longer sign his name. Hunter uses the standard Signing Exact English, or S.E.E. When signing his name, the boy crosses his index and middle fingers and waves them slightly. Grand Island Public schools says according to school policy the child cannot sign his name because it forbids any “instrument” that “looks like a weapon”, according to the Huffington Post.
The family admits that crossing his fingers is a slight modification of the standard gesture, but gives the gesture a personal touch. The family is still voicing outrage over the district’s reaction to the gesture.
Should Hunter Be Able to Sign His Name?
The American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Deaf and the Spanjer family all believe that the district is over stepping with their policy and Hunter should be allowed to use the gesture.
“Anybody that I have talked to thinks this is absolutely ridiculous,” states Hunter’s grandmother Janet Logue. “This is not threatening in any way.”
Hunter’s dad, Brian Spanjer, told the Huffington Post, “I feel like it was an overreach on their part and I expect a lot better from the local school district.”
The American Civil Liberties Union joined the fight for Hunter Spanjer and sent a letter to the school district “politely” asking it to reconsider the policy. Brian Spanjer went on to post the letter to Facebook.
Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf, told the Huffington Post that his organization would assist the Spanjers in legal action if necessary stating in an email, “A name sign is the equivalent of a person’s name, and to prohibit a name sign is to prohibit a person’s name.”
A Grand Island Public Schools spokesman told a Nebraska news station that the school was trying to come to an amicable solution for Hunter.
Brian Spanjer will continue his fight to allow Hunter the right to sign his name. Spanjer started a Facebook page devoted to protesting the school’s action. One Facebook user, Sheryl Booth, called the school district’s actions, “Absolute madness and blatant disability discrimination.”
Bloggers are also joining in Hunter’s fight. A commenter on Lenore Skenazy’s blog “Free-Range Kids” posed the question, “Whatever happened to common sense and shared humanity, not to mention respecting the dignity of a 3 year old and his family?”
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