In a move blasted by rights groups, a 3-year-old-deaf boy has been told by his Nebraska school district to change the way he signs his name because the gesture resembles shooting a gun.
Hunter Spanjer uses the standard S.E.E., Signing Exact English. He crosses his index and middle fingers and waves them slightly to signify his name. And, Grand Island Public Schools' policy forbids any "instrument" that "looks like a weapon," reported NCN (see video above).
While crossing his fingers is a slight modification to the standard gesture, one meant to give it the personal touch, according to NCN, Hunter's family is outraged by the district's reaction.
"Anybody that I have talked to thinks this is absolutely ridiculous," Hunter's grandmother Janet Logue told NCN. "This is not threatening in any way."
Hunter's dad, Brian Spanjer, told The Huffington Post on Tuesday: "I feel like it was an overreach on their part and I expected a lot better from the local school district."
Spanjer posted a letter on Facebook that the ACLU sent to the district "politely" asking it to reconsider policy.
Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf, told HuffPost his organization was prepared to assist the Spanjers with legal action if necessary. "A name sign is the equivalent of a person's name, and to prohibit a name sign is to prohibit a person's name," he wrote in an email.
A district spokesman told the Nebraska station the school was trying to come to the best solution for preschooler Hunter. The Huffington Post left a message with the district for comment early Tuesday.
Brian Spanjer has begun a Facebook page devoted to protesting the school's action. "Absolute madness and blatant disability discrimination," wrote Sheryl Booth.
Blogs have taken up Hunter's cause as well. A commenter on Lenore Skenazy's site Free-Range Kids asked, "Whatever happened to common sense and shared humanity, not to mention respecting the dignity of a 3 year old and his family?"
LOOK: 7 More Things Schools Have Banned This Year (via Babble)
Earlier on HuffPost:
Schools in Massachusetts are barred from hosting <a href="http://bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1061129772" target="_hplink">bake sales</a> by the state's Department of Public Health and Education. First reported last March, the ban became effective August 1.
Three-year-old Marcella Marino, whose father is apparently an EPIC hairstylist, wasn't allowed to rock this Gaga-esque bow for her school picture. Why? Because her school <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2012/05/23/4-year-old-girl-banned-from-getting-school-photo-because-of-hairstyle/" target="_hplink">bans braids and bows</a> in their dress code. Bummer.
Facebook (even while not in school)
A private, all-Jewish school in Brooklyn <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/students-all-girls-jewish-school-brooklyn-face-100-fine-facebook-article-1.1052499?localLinksEnabled=false" target="_hplink">banned students from using Facebook</a>, even outside of school, because it is "immodest." Thirty-three students at Beis Rivkah High School were fined $100 each by the school's rabbi last March.
In June of this year, a primary school in Australia garnered jeers from parents after it <a href="http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/mt-martha-primary-schools-no-contact-policy-bans-tiggy-and-high-fives/story-fn7x8me2-1226395143679" target="_hplink">banned high fives</a>, hugging or playing tiggy, basketball or football. Students caught doing any of these activities will be punished with counseling sessions. By the way, I had to Google "tiggy." It's apparently some kind of incredibly dangerous form of Australian tag. Probably involves whacking people with boomerangs or something. What? It's just tag? Oh. Well then I got nothin'.
A New Jersey school <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2012/03/23/beating-students-is-allowed-at-some-schools-but-hugging-is-banned-at-another/" target="_hplink">banned hugging</a> this year, after "incidents of unsuitable, physical interactions" were witnessed by teachers. Meanwhile, as Babble's <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2012/03/23/beating-students-is-allowed-at-some-schools-but-hugging-is-banned-at-another/" target="_hplink">Meredith Carroll</a> points out, 19 states still allow public school teachers to beat students. Yay, priorities.
OK, not the actual Lee Greenwood, just his song, "God Bless the USA." A New York City school principal <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2012/06/11/nyc-principal-receives-racist-hate-mail-after-banning-god-bless-the-usa-at-kindergarten-graduation/" target="_hplink">banned the song</a> from a kindergarten graduation this year.
The acronym 'LOL'
Students at an Atlanta-area elementary school were asked to sign a pledge agreeing not to use <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3IC8uXJEzU" target="_hplink">the acronym "LOL"</a> in their yearbook. The school later changed their policy after parents and students ridiculed the ban.
<strong><a href="http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2012/08/14/seriously-15-things-schools-have-banned-so-far-in-2012/" target="_hplink">For 8 more ridiculous things schools have banned, visit Babble!</a></strong> <br> <strong>More on Babble</strong> <br> <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/family-style/2011/12/28/17-kids-fashions-we-hope-disappear-by-2012/ " target="_hplink">17 fashion trends that need to disappear this year</a> <br> <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2012/07/12/judging-a-book-by-its-cover-a-6-year-old-guesses-what-classic-novels-are-all-about/" target="_hplink">22 classic novels as explained by a 6-year-old</a> <br> <a href="http://www.babble.com/mom/work-family/parent-humor-mom-secrets-kids-dont-know/parent-humor-mom-secrets-kids-dont-know-1/" target="_hplink">The 10 biggest secrets parents hide from their kids</a>