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Toddler in Trouble for Signing His Name

Sign language for I love you

Hunter Spanjer is deaf and he  says his name with a certain special hand gesture, but at just three and a half years old, he may have to change it!

I know you thinking, are you serious?  Yes, very serious.

“He’s deaf, and his name sign, they say, is a violation of their weapons policy,” explained Hunter’s father, Brian Spanjer.

The reason for this is Grand Island, NE’s “Weapons in Schools” Board Policy 8470 forbids “any instrument…that looks like a weapon,”  and that includes hands.

“Anybody that I have talked to thinks this is absolutely ridiculous. This is not threatening in any way,” said Hunter’s grandmother Janet Logue.

“It’s a symbol. It’s an actual sign, a registered sign, through S.E.E.,” Brian Spanjer said.

S.E.E. stands for Signing Exact English, Hunter’s sign language. Hunter’s name gesture is modified with crossed-fingers to show it is uniquely his own.

The only thing the school officials will say, “We are working with the parents to come to the best solution we can for the child,” said Jack Sheard, Grand Island Public Schools spokesperson

This is about to get ugly, as Hunter’s parents say that by Monday, lawyers from the National Association of the Deaf are likely to weigh in for Hunter’s right to sign his own name.

The people of Grand Isle aren’t too happy with this ruling either, a large majority of them have publicly said that they don’t think it’s right to make a three year-old change the way he says his name. “It’s his name. It’s not like he’s going to bring a gun to school when he’s three years old,” commented one parent.

“I find it very difficult to believe that the sign language that shows his name resembles a gun in any way would even enter a child’s mind,” said another resident.

Where with this end? It looks like it could be headed to court and it will either result in hunter keeping his name, or changing it for the school.

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