Student’s cordial ‘Bless You’ sparks controversy, suspension

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DYER COUNTY, Tenn. — 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 said when she defended her actions, she was told to see an administrator. She said she finished the class period in in-school suspension.

Students sent WMC 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 who were talking about this particular faculty member there that was very demeaning to them in regard to their faith,” Winegardner said.

Turner’s parents said 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 said 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 said 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.

Source: WMC/CNN


  • aleinva

    I am not a religious person, but even I say bless you when someone sneezes. It doesn’t even say if she said “God bless you, ” not that it would change my opinion on this matter.So the only people that “count your blessings” or say “bless you” are in the church? People are becoming so idiotic,

  • Erica

    I totally agree with you both. This is the dumbest mess I’ve heard. This is what’s wrong with the world today. I thank GOD every chance I get throughout my day!!!!

  • joy

    this is EXACTLY why this country is going down everyday. God is good all the time!! I dont know anybody else who can bless but God @aleinva

  • Morning Dew

    Sounds like too rigid guidelines for the classroom. If the student was disruptive, then send her out of the class for that, but not for breaking a rule that states you cannot say “Bless You” after a sneeze. That is more social convention than religious convention.

  • Pamm

    Wow – Did your mommy beat you when you were a child Clyde? Did a girlfriend dump you and leave you broken hearted? LOL you are a pitiful example of a man.

  • Tana

    well then ignoring the obvious elephant in the room , Clyde , Bless you to,,,this is just a stupid conversation to begin with,,,its sad when teachers dont have the common sense God gave a billy goat,,and have to make something out of nothing ,,,the kid maybe didnt need to shout out if the student was on the other side of the room, but the teacher didnt have to escalate the situation either,,,maybe they all need an afternoon nap,,,and we all know what Clyde needs :)

  • Morning Dew

    She may have shouted it across the room, Timmy, but this was the exchange between teacher and student. “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.

    • Clyde McDonald

      I’ll answer my own question. No, it never crossed your mind that she may be lying, after all, she’s sitting on a gold mine, so of course she could never lie…just like you.

    • Morning Dew

      I’m sure there are other students in the room to back up what happened. But why would they count, the teacher can rewrite history, as can you.

  • MamaBear

    Just another brain dead liberal collecting taxpayers money for imposing their view on life. The teacher was offended by the words “bless you”. Time to give vouchers to the parents so their children won’t offend these liberals any more. I bet if parents were given the choice between public or private schools, all public schools would close. Then these brain dead liberals would change their tune.

  • A. Bold

    Wow you’ve really been burned before haven’t you?!? Not all women are gold diggers and liars just like all men aren’t lying cheating snakes or bitter old bachelors.

  • athynz

    Timmay! You can change your user name but the bitterness and hatred of women and minorities just seeps right on through. As does the ignorance. I still can’t get over that you think I’m a woman – that’s too funny dude.

  • Angela Monger (@MetalGoddess24)

    Of course it could be that the girl is lying. Or exaggerating. But then that wouldn’t make a good news story. Has journalism sunk to such a low that they don’t research stories anymore? In other words, getting both sides of the story? And Tennessee for your information is not a bastion of liberalism. But by all means let us buy this girl’s story hook, line, and sinker because after all she’s a Christian so that makes her one percent honest, right?

  • Lisa

    oh no! We got called Sheeple. Quick, everyone, change your mind and listen to Clyde because he is all knowing. All hail the wise and knowledgeable King Clyde!!!

  • John Buhwald

    Oh, Lord. I’m an atheist and even I say “bless you.” It’s called habit. No more of a religious statement than saying “Oh, Lord.”

    • kim

      that is so dumb—how can you be atheist but say oh Lord. That doesnt make since. very bias. Habit from where? how did it form? Why cry out to someone you believe is not real? Are you joking when you say it? lol, I love it. He’s going to get the glory regardless.

      • Belsma

        Oh lord Kim (eye roll). Nobody is making a “cry” for the “lord”. It’s just a statement like “good grief”. It is common courtesy to say, “bless you” when someone sneezes, I am not sure why..maybe we are expelling the devil out of us and we need to be blessed! :)

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  • Belsma

    If you have any manners at all you say, “bless you” when someone sneezes, religious or not. Not sure where it originated, but it’s just what folks say! Geesh!

  • Ken Cissel

    A couple of things here come to mind. First of all I would say that since it’s a public school, which makes it more or less an arm of the government in a way, it’s a constitutional violation to preemptively censor or forbid some speech, especially if due to religious reasons. If it’s not school or school district policy then the teacher shouldn’t be allowed to chill speech, but it’s probably not policy because it would be unconstitutional. Secondly I can understand the student loudly expressing her first amendment right to free speech and right to religious beliefs in protest against such an over reach by a teacher. Third it seems from the report that the suspension was actually from the disruptive behavior concerning the interaction with the teacher after the girl said “Bless You.” Fourth, it would seem to be a stretch to say that the girl actually saying “Bless You” was the grounds for the in school suspension so the whole tone of the story as reported is sensationalistic. Perhaps they should have reported that the girl was suspended after arguing with a teacher and disrupting the classroom after saying “Bless You” to another student who sneezed.

  • Dyersburg Citizen

    The principal, Mrs, Dodds, has since stated, and Ms. Turner has further admitted, that she left the class on her own. She was put in ISS for the remaining 20 min of that specific class period, while things were sorted out. That is all. Administration had to go to the classroom to calm down the students. She wasn’t in trouble for her statement, she was in trouble for being disruptive in the middle of a timed test. “Bless You” is a phrase that kids think is funny to all shout out at once, thus no one getting in trouble, which was why it was on the banned list. The teacher, Mrs. Kindle, is a devout Christian with over 40 years with no admonishment on her record, and is known for praying with students outside of school and being involved in the Christian organizations at the school. Unfortunately, Ms. Turner turned to social media and the news. A kind and Christian woman is at the base of a witch hunt.

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