A Tennessee teen was suspended for acknowledging her classmate’s sneeze by saying “bless you.” Dyer County High School is where Kendra Turner says a teacher has banned the use of these two commonly used words when someone sneezes. Other words are also banned in this classroom and are written on the chalk board, as shown in the picture below.
When the teacher asked “Who said that?” Turner admitted it was her. She was then asked why she said it, and her response was that she was taught that you say “bless you” as a courtesy. The teacher then demanded to know who had told her it was a courtesy, and the answer was her family and her pastor. This is where the situation becomes a little controversial, as if the ban of those two words was not enough. The teacher said, according to Turner, that if she cannot follow the class rules, maybe her pastor should teach her, and then Turner was sent to the principle’s office.
The principle then upheld the teacher’s ruling by keeping the student for in-school suspension for the remainder of the day. The teacher backed up her actions by saying that Turner was being disruptive, and that there is to be no “godly” language in her classroom, including the words “bless you.” The young student then stated that she has rights, and was then immediately sent to see the head of the school. The teacher in question vehemently defended her stance and stated that the word ban has been made known to all of her students, and they have also discussed their constitutional rights. She also told the young girl’s parents that she shouted the words from across the room, and became aggressive when defending her right to use them.
This has a lot of people in America up in arms, from radio shows to television shows, where many are voicing opinions on this event. Twitter is sure to light up over this apparent infringement of civil rights as classmates of Turner’s are sporting shirts that say #BlessYou on them in support of her right to use the phrase. Many tweets are in support of Turner and her right to use the phrase, some stating that perhaps the teacher should throw away her money, as it has “In God We Trust” printed on it.
The term “bless you” or adding the word God in front of that dates back to approximately 540 AD when a sneeze was an indication of the bubonic plague, and Pope Gregory I the Great asked all people to bless those that sneezed, thus sending prayers that they did not get the plague. He was emphatic that prayers be sent without stop during this time troubled by the disease. The phrase has become an American staple when ever a sneeze is produced and has been used so much in the last 1200 years that it is almost an automatic response by millions. The debate over religion in schools will continue, and the things that many have grown up doing will slowly disappear, yet for many this is something worth fighting for. No longer do many schools say the Pledge of Allegiance, and now children are seemingly being taught that the smallest of common courtesy like saying “bless you” will not be tolerated.
Opinion by Kristi Cereska