Student suspended for saying, 'Bless you'

Dyer County High School senior Kendra Turner with, Becky Winegardner, a youth pastor at Dyersburg First Assembly of God during a news conference about Turner's in-school suspension over saying, "Bless you." (Photo by Dyersburg State Gazette)

A Tennessee student reportedly got kicked out of class for saying "Bless you," when another student sneezed.

The term apparently violated the list of forbidden expressions a teacher had written on a blackboard, according to the Dyersburg State Gazette.

Bless you was posted along with my bad, hang out, stupid and stuff, said Kendra Turner, 17, the Dyer County High School senior, who tried to explain to the teacher she was just being courteous during the Monday incident. 

When asked who claimed "bless you" was a courtesy, Turner said her pastor.


Is it OK for a teacher to punish a student for saying 'Bless you'?

Turner got sent to the principal's office to serve an in-school suspension for the rest of the period.

"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," vice principal Lynn Garner told the State Gazette.

Clearly, Turner and her pastor believe the issue was religion.

“She said that we’re not going to have godly speaking in her class," Turner told WMC-TV. Her reply to the teacher that there's a constitutional right to freedom of religion and freedom of speech was unsuccessful.

"There were several students that were talking about this particular faculty member there that was very demeaning to them in regard to their faith,” said Becky Winegardner, Turner's pastor at Dyersburg First Assembly of God.

Garner said she thought the issue had been blown out of proportion by the media.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or Follow