National Association of the Deaf

NAD Condemns School's Ban of Name Sign for Three Year Old Boy



UPDATE: The Grand Island Public School decision to require 3-year old to change his name sign aired on the Today Show (check your local cable listings for NBC) on Thursday, August 30th, at 8:20 am Eastern time. If you live on the West Coast, tune in at 8:20 am for an interview with the Spanjer family! Follow us on Twitter at @NADTweets to get the latest news.

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) condemns the actions of Grand Island Public School in Nebraska to require that a 3-year-old deaf boy change the way he signs his name. The NAD is prepared to assist the family in responding to Grand Island Public Schools including through legal action if the school will not honor its own nondiscrimination policy, and instead misapply a weapons policy that is not even applicable.

Grand Island Public Schools claims that the boy’s name sign violates a school policy on weapons. Section 8470 of the Grand Island Public Schools’ Policies states as follows: “This policy shall cover any object or item which could be used to injure another person or whose clear intent is to resemble an item which could cause injury and which has no school-related reason for being in a school or on school grounds.” However, on its website, a “Notice of Nondiscrimination” states that the “Grand Island Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, age or other protected status in its programs and activities.”

The NAD is not aware of any other schools that have banned a name sign; Grand Island Public Schools is likely the first to ever to do so.

"A name sign is the equivalent of a person's name. It would be inappropriate for Grand Island Public Schools to prohibit a person from another country to use in school their own name which they deemed offensive," said NAD CEO Howard A. Rosenblum.

A three-year-old student's name sign would not "injure another person" and is definitely not intended "to resemble an item which could cause injury." The NAD calls on Grand Island Public Schools to retract its request and issue a statement that respects and supports Hunter Spanjer's cultural and linguistic identity.