Student Suspended for Saying “Bless You”

Saying “bless you” in response to someone else’s sneezing used to have some kind of religious connotations centuries, and perhaps millennia ago. These days, most people don’t mean anything religious by it. It’s become a polite thing to say, sort of like saying “excuse me” after a belch.

But when a school official hears the word “bless” during class time, the first thing that comes to mind is that sacred wall of separation between church and state that is being systematically torn down piece by piece with every sternutation.

A CBS affiliate wrote about the Newbern, Tennessee high school incident:

A high school student was allegedly suspended after breaking a class rule of saying “bless you” after a classmate sneezed.

Kendra Turner, a senior at Dyer County High School, said bless you to her classmate who sneezed and the teacher told her that the term was for church.

“She said that we’re not going to have godly speaking in her class and that’s when I said we have a constitutional right,” Turner toldWMC.

When she defended her actions, the teacher told Turner to see an administrator. The student said that she had to finish the class period in in-school suspension.

The girl’s parents were told by school leaders that their daughter shouted “bless you” across the room and that it was a classroom distraction.

School officials told her parents Tuesday that the teacher claimed that their daughter was aggressive and disruptive.

But Becky Winegardner, Turner’s youth pastor, disagrees with the school’s actions of in-class suspension.

“There were several students that were talking about this particular faculty member there that was very demeaning to them in regard to their faith,” Winegardner told WMC. “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.”

WMC reported that there are other expressions that are banned as part of class rules and they are listed on the teacher’s white board along with “bless you.”

Some of Turner’s classmates supported her Tuesday by wearing hand made bless you shirts. She explained that she doesn’t want trouble for her teacher but that she’ll stand up for her faith no matter what.

“It’s alright to defend God and it’s our constitutional right because we have a freedom of religion and freedom of speech,” Turner told WMC.

They’re going to haggle over whether or not the student was being loud and disruptive and try to make it sound like that’s the reason she got in trouble. But the news report states that one of the “banned phrases” in this classroom that’s written on the white board is “bless you.” Students aren’t allowed to say “bless you,” because of the word “bless,” which has religious connotations.

It wouldn’t surprise me if this student were reacting to such a ridiculously stupid rule by announcing the illegal benediction loud and clear so that all could hear. I’d probably do the same thing.

You can talk freely and ask questions about all manners of sexual acts and perversion, but “bless” is a dirty word.