Thousands Support Deaf Boy's Signed Name

By: Steve Ross Email
By: Steve Ross Email

Hunter Spanjer's story touched a nerve nationwide, and abroad.

Hunter's parents say that Grand Island Public Schools told them the deaf three year-old's name sign violates the school district's weapons policy.

However, Grand Island Public Schools is sticking by their statement, released Tuesday:

"Grand Island Public Schools is not requiring any current student with a hearing impairment to change his or her sign language name."

But Hunter Spanjer's father says that isn't what he's heard from the district.

"If they feel like they're wrong, and they're not requiring him to change his name sign, then there's no issue here. And an apology and a, uh, you know, "we're going to go ahead and proceed as usual" would have sufficed. We kind of felt like at one point, yesterday...that they were trying to deter, deter the credibility of this story. And I don't feel that's a proper response," Brian Spanjer said.

The video of the Grand Island boy saying his name in sign language launched a groundswell of support, and an online petition garnering thousands of signatures.

The story, which first aired on Nebraska Central News last Friday, has hit popular websites and newspapers internationally.

But Grand Island Public Schools officials say they're being misrepresented in some national outlets.

The New York Daily News quoted Marketing and Communication Coordinator Jack Sheard as saying the name gesture was "not an appropriate thing to do in school."

But, Sheard told us that, in the Daily News story, he was not specifically speaking of Hunter Spanjer's case in the interview.

For now, Brian Spanjer is asking supporters to keep their cool in the face of this controversy.

"We want them to be respectful. From the family standpoint we have no issue with Mr. Winters, the superintendent, or anyone else involved, personally," Spanjer said.

Lawyers from the National Association of the Deaf are preparing to weigh in on Hunter's behalf, possibly as soon as Thursday.


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