Girl suspended after saying 'bless you'

WMC/CNN
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 6:29pm

A young girl, who claims she was standing up for her religious beliefs in the classroom, was suspended after breaking a class rule of saying "bless you" after a classmate sneezed.

When Dyer County High School senior Kendra Turner said bless you to her classmate, she says her teacher told her that 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," said Turner.

Turner says when she defended her actions, she was told to see an administrator. She says she 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. It sparked discussion with Turner's youth pastor Becky Winegardner last week at church.

"There were several students that were talking about this particular faculty member there that was very demeaning to them in regard to their faith," Pastor Becky Winegardner said.

Turner's parents say the school leaders claim the outburst was a classroom distraction and that she shouted "bless you" across the room.

"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," added Winegardner.

Turner's family met with school leaders Tuesday. They say the teacher claimed Turner was being disruptive and aggressive. Some classmates showed support Tuesday 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," said Turner.

WMC's contacted the Dyer County Schools superintendent to get the district's side of the story, but he has not yet heard back at this time. 

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