Student suspended for saying ‘bless you’ in class

What can get a high school student in-school suspension? Fighting, being caught smoking, cheating on a test?

How about a widely accepted use of good manners?

It happened in a public high school in Tennessee this week — 17-year-old Kendra Turner was suspended for saying “bless you” to another student who had sneezed.

Assistant Principal Lynn Garner said that teachers were allowed to make up rules for their own classrooms, as long as they are reasonable.

“If a teacher asks his or her students to do something reasonable to avoid a distraction in the classroom, then we expect the students to follow the rules,” he told The Tennessean. “If it’s not a reasonable request, then we’ll sit down and talk about it to get it right.”

Turner said that the phrase was banned along others like “dumb,” “stupid,” “hang out” and “my bad.”

After saying the phrase, Turner said her teacher asked her who told her it “was a courtesy.” Turner responded saying her parents and pastor.

“I want God to be able to be talked about in school,” she said during a news conference on Tuesday. “I want them to realize that God is in control and they’re not.”

“The majority of the time, when a student comes to the office either voluntarily or was sent by a teacher, they are placed in ISS until the end of the period because we have two supervisors in there to watch them,” Garner said in a statement to the State Gazette. “Also, it gives us a chance to find out what the situation is and what happened in the classroom for them to be in the office in the first place. In this case, this was not a religious issue at all, but more of an issue the teacher felt was a distraction in her class.”

Contact Kristen DeSilva at or 702-477-3895. Find her on Twitter: @kristendesilva