The father of a Grayson County Middle School student claims his daughter was recently given a “verbal reprimand” by a teacher for saying “God bless you” in school.
In a Wednesday, Feb. 1 interview with the Grayson County News-Gazette, Dan Shafer, whose family has resided in Grayson County for four years, said his daughter told him that, last week, in response to someone sneezing, she said, “God bless you,” and was subsequently told by a teacher not to say that phrase, as it is considered to be a religious statement.
In an e-mail sent to the school system and released to the Grayson County News-Gazette, Shafer writes that his daughter also told him that this is “a commonly communicated rule in Grayson County Schools. She went on to say that all of the students [seem] to be well aware this was a phrase that was not welcomed or authorized.”
Shafer said his daughter was not punished for her use of the phrase, but she was troubled by the alleged verbal reprimand because she did not use the phrase as a religious statement “but a common courtesy.”
Further, Shafer said his daughter told him she felt it was more important for the schools to have separation of church and state than courtesy, which he called “as much a violation of separation of church and state as protecting it.”
“I’m not going to ask my daughter to change…nor am I,” said Shafer, in response to the alleged incident.
In response to the allegations, Grayson County Schools Superintendent Doug Robinson said the school system has no policy that prohibits anyone from saying “God bless you.”
Though he could not confirm or deny that the alleged incident occurred, Robinson said he doubts any of Grayson County Schools’ teachers would have such a response.
Robinson also said that the schools say the Pledge of Allegiance every day with their students, and when considering the language used in the pledge (i.e. “one nation under God”), it would not make sense to prohibit a phrase such as “God bless you.”
Robinson also said that Assistant Superintendent Mitch Crump had spoken with Shafer regarding the alleged incident on Thursday morning, Feb. 2.
Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.