Debate Magazine

Tennessee Public School Suspends Student for Saying “Bless You”

By Eowyn @DrEowyn

Dyer County High School

If you’re a student at Dyer County High School, a public high school in Newbern, Tennessee, you should know that you can get suspended for the heinous crime of saying “Bless you.”

Michael Clark reports for Channel 5 WMC in Tennessee, Aug. 20, 2014, that Dyer County High School suspended senior Kendra Turner  for breaking a class rule by saying “bless you” to a classmate who’d sneezed.

Turner said her teacher told her saying “bless you” was for church, “that we’re not going to have godly speaking in her class and that’s when I said we have a constitutional right.” When Turner defended her actions, she was told to see an administrator. The girl finished the class period in in-school suspension.

Students sent WMC Action News 5’s Michael Clark a photo of the teacher’s white board that lists “bless you” and other expressions that are banned as part of class rules. (I’ve circled the words “Bless You” in red.)

Dyer County High School whiteboard

Turner’s youth pastor Becky Winegardner said, “There were several students  that were talking about this particular faculty member there that was very demeaning to them in regard to their faith. This was something that had come up previously in the last few weeks just since the beginning of school and I shared with all of those students what their rights were.”

After meeting with school administrators, Turner’s parents say the school leaders claim the outburst was a classroom distraction and that she shouted “bless you” across the room. The teacher claimed Turner was being disruptive and aggressive.

Yesterday, Aug. 19, Turner’s classmates showed their support by wearing hand made bless you shirts.

Turner said she doesn’t want trouble for her teacher but says she’ll stand up for her faith, “It’s alright to defend God and it’s our constitutional right because we have a freedom of religion and freedom of speech.”

Here’s contact info:

Peggy Dodds, Principal
Dyer County High School
1000 W Main St
Newbern, TN 38059
(731) 627-2229

Peggy Dodds (l); Dwight Hedge (r)

Peggy Dodds (l); Dwight Hedge (r)

Dr. Dwight L. Hedge, Superintendent
Dyer County School District
159 Everett Ave.
Dyersburg, TN 38024
Phone: (731)285-6712


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