A Nebraska family is fighting for their deaf son's right to continue using his own name after school officials told them it was inappropriate and must be changed.
Three-year-old Hunter Spanjer uses a type of sign language called Signing Exact English (S.E.E.) to communicate and signs his name by crossing his index finger and middle finger and then wagging his hands.
Drawing upon a policy that forbids "any instrument that looks like a weapon," Grand Island Public School board officials say that Hunter's name looks too much like a gun gesture to be used in school.
"It's a symbol. It's an actual sign, a registered sign, through S.E.E.," said Spanjer's father, Brian, to KOLN in Grand Island, Nebraska. "He's deaf, and his name sign, they say, is a violation of their weapons policy."
A spokesperson for the school board would only tell KOLN that they are "working with the parents to come to the best solution we can for the child," but Spanjer's community is already mobilizing to ensure the preschooler keeps his signed name as is.
A Facebook group titled "Let this Deaf Child Keep His Name Sign" already has over 2,000 members, and a status update posted Tuesday indicates that the American Civil Liberties Union has become involved in the case.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you for your support. A small part of our prayers were answered this afternoon when we made contact with the Nebraska ACLU. I wanted to share this with all of you to show we are not alone," it reads.
Hundreds of supportive posts can be found on the Facebook page's public wall from people all over the United States and beyond.
"I can't believe this even became an issue," writes one Michigan resident. "They say you pick your battles and this is one definitely worth picking!"
"Tell you what I find offensive - a hearing person telling a Deaf person what to sign and what not to sign; leave our language alone and we'll leave your language alone," writes a young woman from the U.K.
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