Target: Grand Island Public School District
Goal: Allow deaf pre-schooler to keep signing his name the way he has been taught despite one of the gestures allegedly looking like a gun.
A three-year-old deaf boy in Nebraska is being asked to stop signing his name in a certain way at school because it involves using a gesture that is similar to a gun. At six months, Hunter Spanjer was taught to sign his name using this gesture by the school district that now deems it inappropriate. Demand that the school district allow Hunter to keep his name sign.
Hunter relies on sign language to communicate with teachers and peers at school. His instructors have been trying to teach him a new way to spell his name because the school district feels that Hunter’s name sign looks like a gun. The school district stands by its position based on their policy that students cannot “knowingly and voluntarily possess, handle, transmit or use any instrument in school, on school grounds or at school functions that is a firearm, weapon, or looks like a weapon.” This has only caused confusion for Hunter, who was first taught to sign his name in this way by the same school district that is now telling him to stop. Hunter’s parents feel that the school district is also targeting Hunter because his name is associated with weapon imagery, but argue that children who are named Christian are not targeted because their name is seemingly associated with religion.
The position of the school district is ridiculous because it targets a child and discriminates against the methods that the child is using to communicate—methods that were taught by the school district in the first place. Support Hunter Spanjer and his family by telling the Grand Island Public School District to stop discriminating against the three-year-old and allow him to keep his name sign.
Dear Grand Island Public School District,
Your decision to discriminate against Hunter Spanjer for using a sign language gesture that looks like a gun must end now. Hunter relies on sign language to communicate with teachers and peers at school. He cannot help it if the sign language he learned involves such gestures. Your position is that he is using the S.E.E. (Signing Exact English) symbol to sign his name instead of the A.S.L. (American Sign Language) symbol, and consider his use of S.E.E. nonstandard. However, your school district worked with Hunter to teach him sign language since he was six months old, and taught him the S.E.E. symbols, which he has been using ever since.
Trying to re-teach Hunter his own name has proved to be a confusing experience for the three-year-old and surely has negatively impacted the child’s self-esteem. Please stop discriminating against Hunter and allow him to keep his name sign.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Open Clip Art Library