We each have our challenges, for one three-year-old boy it’s his inability to hear. Yes, Hunter is deaf. That’s okay, people with disabilities have ways of compensating, in the case of those who are deaf or hard of hearing, they can communicate using sign language. Unfortunately for this little boy, his name, according to school officials, looks too much like a gun, which violates their anti-gun policy.
“The parents of a 3-year-old deaf boy from Nebraska say his preschool told them he must change the way he signs his name because it looks like a finger-pistol, but the school says the family has their signals crossed.
“The family of pre-schooler Hunter Spanjer said officials at the Grand Island Public Schools told them the manner in which the boy signs his name is a violation of its “weapons in school” policy. The claim they were told Hunter had to modify the way he signs his moniker to comply with the school’s zero tolerance code against weapons in school.”
The backlash from the community wasn’t something the school district was prepared for. Grand Island Public Schools said they have received hundreds of angry calls and emails.
“The encouragement and support is amazing,” Brian Spanjer, Hunter’s father, said. “It’s been more than I could have asked for and it’s been extremely helpful.”
After a Change.org petition to the school district and the involvment of the ACLU, Grand Island Public Schools made the following statement:
“Grand Island Public Schools has not changed the sign language name of any student, nor is it requiring any student to change how his or her name is signed. The school district teaches American Sign Language (“ASL”) for students with hearing impairments. ASL is recommended by the Nebraska Department of Education and is widely used in the United States. The sign language techniques taught in the school district are consistent with the standards of the Nebraska Department of Education and ASL.
“The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act prohibits the school district from disclosing personally identifiable information concerning any student without the prior written consent of the student’s parent.
“Therefore, the school district cannot discuss any particular student or identify any particular student.
“Grand Island Public Schools is not requiring any current student with a hearing impairment to change his or her sign language name. Our mission remains: Every Student, Every Day, a Success!”
Perhaps a bettery canned response would have been “we were wrong, and suggesting that a deaf child change his name because some pansy doesn’t like guns was monumentally stupid, we’re sorry, please stop calling us!”