Story by ELLEN BECKER (Managing Editor)
The titled read “Deaf boy’s name violates school’s weapons policy.” I was intrigued, so I clicked on the link.
Apparently, a preschool in Nebraska is asking a 3-year-old deaf boy to change the sign for his name because it imitates a gun. The boy’s first name is Hunter, so he signs his name by making what looks like shooting gestures with both hands.
As I continued fur ther into the article, I read that “the Grand Island Public Schools board says its ‘Weapons in Schools’ policy bans ‘any instrument … that looks like a weapon.’”
By this time I was both shaking my head and rolling my eyes. If an adult can’t tell the difference between an “instrument” and a 3-year-old’s hand, something is wrong.
The gesture for Hunter’s name isn’t some made up symbol; it’s a registered sign. His grandmother was quoted saying that it is not threatening in any way. “Anybody that I have talked to thinks this is absolutely ridiculous,” she said.
The school board is saying that it wants to “compromise” with the family to “come to the best solution” they can for Hunter. Luckily, his family is not standing for it. They are bringing in lawyers from the National Association of the Deaf to fight for their son’s right to sign his own name.
What has happened to our school system? When I was little, boys in my elementary school played “cops and robbers” during recess and brought little toy soldiers with guns for show-and-tell.
I can understand and appreciate any effort to keep children safe and away from violence, but this is taking it way too far.
We’re not talking about a teenager in a long, black trench coat; he’s a 3-year-old for goodness sake. Perhaps his teacher should supply him with a name tag so he doesn’t terrify the school board.
Sign language is his way of speaking. Does this not fall under the right to free speech?
As far as I know, Hunter does not attend a school for the deaf. He attends a regular public school. He probably has enough trouble communicating with hearing students. He doesn’t need the school board bullying him out of using his own name in the only way he knows. If this isn’t discrimination, I don’t know what is.
The only thing the school board is going to accomplish is confusing the poor child. How are his parents supposed to explain to him that “saying” his name in the only way he can is “offensive” or “dangerous?” I’m 23 and I don’t even understand it.
Instead of sheltering children from any form or mention of a gun, shouldn’t schools be teaching them to respect weapons and know that there are times and places for them, and that school is just not one of them?
If they keep this up, kids are going to become overly curious and star t playing with any gun they see.
As soon as the story was posted, an internet uproar began. Almost all of the comments I read were siding with the family and saying how moronic and insensitive the school board is for tormenting such a small child over something so pointless.
One website had a poll that asked “Is the hand sign for Hunter’s name appropriate for school?” The top answer was “yes” with a resounding 92 percent of the votes, while “no” received seven percent of the votes, and one percent said “I’m not sure.”
Unfortunately, public opinion probably won’t factor much into the case. But somehow, I think the family is going to win this one.
So far, all the school board has managed to do, besides making themselves look like idiots, is shake my faith in today’s education system.
So look out all you kids named Gunther, Colt, Shotwell or Remington. You might be next.