The teacher allegedly has a list of words that students may not use in the classroom. (Photo Source: WMC Viewer submitted)
A Dyer County, Tennessee high school senior has supposedly been suspended from school for saying “Bless you” to a classmate who sneezed. The teacher purportedly has a list of words and phrases written on her white board that the students are not allowed to say in her classroom. This list includes the idiom ‘bless you’. Looking at the other phrases such as “hang out, stupid, and my bad”, I can see what the teacher is trying to accomplish. Teens tend to overuse many of the words that are included on her taboo list. By not allowing the kids to use these common expressions, she is encouraging them to expand their vocabulary and express themselves in a more affective and intellectual way. Regardless of her logic for putting “Bless you” on her list, it’s my opinion, that as an educator, she made a poor decision that opened the school and the school system up for just exactly the type of scrutiny that they are currently under. Religion, both freedom from and freedom of, is one of society’s hot buttons. Someone will always be salivating to push it.
However, IF this situation is as it is reported, it is one of the more ridiculous things that I have seen in a long time. Saying “Bless you” after a sneeze, which is reflex for many people (myself included) or “Have a blessed day”, are two of the most GENERIC, least offensive religious-toned things that you can say. May God “bless you”. May the Goddess “bless you”. May Your God/the Divine/Holy/Jehovah/Allah/Buddha/Zeus/Hecate/Fluffy Bunny “bless you” and your day. Take that understood subject and put in the deity of your faith. Personally, I need all the blessings that I can get! I know steadfast atheists who take a “bless you” with a smile and thank you. Admittedly, you will never please everyone. Someone will claim to be offended (even if they really aren’t) just for the attention.
Now, in support of the teacher… yes… I said that. If Kendra Turner yelled out across the classroom, that WAS a disruption. Students who were closer most likely also said it more quietly to the sneezer. If she has a history of interrupting class and/or other behavioral issues, then she was deserving of an afternoon of ISS. NOT for saying “bless you” after a classmate’s sneeze but for yelling out and repeatedly disrupting the classes educational time. The class was supposed to be quiet. Someone sneezed. Turner said “something” in response (it doesn’t matter what; it could have been ‘Oh, yuck. You need a tissue) and the teacher asked her to be quiet. The student took it as an attack on her faith and felt the need to defend against it. The teacher only saw this as a further disruption and the situation escalated. The student, clearly frustrated, ran out of the classroom and, not long after that, posted something on Facebook and called her parents.
Did the teacher handle this wrong. Potentially. Is this a set up for attention and to push a religious agenda. Potentially. But from what the other kids are saying, at face value, I would have to say that this teacher is making the other educators look bad.
**off the soap box that I didn’t mean to get on**