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Controversy erupts over toddler's sign language name
The story has gone viral. One Grand Island toddler may have to change the way he signs his name. News 5's Katie Gauthier sat down with the parents of a three year old who they say was asked to change his sign language name.
Meet Hunter: an energetic, bright eyed toddler who is deaf.
"Grand Island Public Schools has not changed the sign language name of any student nor is it requiring any student to change how his or her name is signed," said Jack Sheard, Grand Island Public Schools.
Hunter has been a part of the Grand Island Early Intervention Program since he was about 6 months old and attends preschool at the Early Learning Center in Grand Island.
"About two weeks ago we had been in contact with his early intervention home visitor and she had asked us if we would change his name. They felt like his name was inappropriate or his name sign," said Hunter's father Brian Spanjer.
Hunter and his parents use S-E-E or Signing Exact English and sign Hunter's name by crossing the first two fingers.
"I asked her if there is a school policy that we are in violation of. What I was referred to was, well, 'technically it's a violation of our weapons policy.' I was floored," said Spanjer.
But Grand Island Public School District says they have not requested a student change their sign language name.
"We have never required a student to change their name sign. We follow the guidelines of ASL. They have guidelines for name signs. That is what we follow," Sheard said.
"Actually, I think the meaning of that statement was they're not requiring him to change his name. He's allowed to finger spell his name they just don't want him using his name sign in the schools," Spanjer said.
"They want us to modify it to the ASL sign. We are SEE, this is what we've known," said Hunter's mother Morgan Hurt. "I think it'd be a big difference. It'd be like telling me to change my name because it's not spelled the right way."
The story has spread like wildfire and gone completely viral.
The Grand Island Public School District says they've been receiving a wave of phone calls and emails about the case.
"We're angry at the situation, not the individuals. I'm sure everybody in this is well intentioned, even if they may be misguided," said Spanjer.
"I'm not going to change my son's name. That's what we gave him. I'm not going to confuse him," said Hurt.
Hunter's parents have been in contact with National Association for the Deaf and say the association would be in contact with the school district about the issue.
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