Island Public School district in Grand Island, Nebraska can
tell you first hand that social media is a force to be
On August 24, reports surfaced that officials at the district's
Center preschool, told deaf three-year-old Hunter Spanjer he
would have to change his registered sign name, which when signed
resembles guns, because it violates the district's zero tolerance
policy on guns. Hunter signs his crossing his index and middle
fingers, as seen in this video. The decision outraged his family who
took to social media.
Two days later Hunter's father Brian Spanjer made the Facebook
page, "Let this Deaf Child Keep His Name Sign," to
gain support to allow his son to continue using the registered
S.E.E. (Signing Exact English) symbol, which Hunter has used since
he was six months old. After a mere four days online, the page drew
more than 16,000 followers. Spanjer used the Facebook page as a
platform to communicate with supporters across the nation, posting
daily with progress updates and photographs.
The social media movement did not stop there. After hearing
about the story, a supporter in Rhode Island created a petiton
on change.com to support Hunter, racking up 4,500 signatures in
support of Hunter. Supporters also took to Twitter to rally with
support for Hunter's cause.
As more and more people began to stand in support of Hunter and
his family via a flood of social media outcries, emails and phone
calls, Grand Island School District eventaully relented, dropping
the issue and releasing the following statement:
"Grand Island Public Schools is not requiring any current
student with a hearing impairment to change his or her sign
language name. Our mission remains: Every Student, Every Day, a
Thanks to social media, practically overnight, the Spanjer
family gained a tremendous amount of support and were able to
achieve a victory for their son.
by Amey Owen, Account Coordinator at Solomon McCown &