Family Files Lawsuit Against Tennessee School District Seeking Ban On Chewing Gum And Eating In Class

Knoxville, Tenn. (WVLT/Gray News) – A Jane Doe and her parents have filed a new lawsuit against a Tennessee school district asking them to ban chewing gum and eating in classrooms.

The case was filed because Doe said she suffered from misophonia, described as “an extreme reaction to hearing normal sounds,” in response to chewing, according to court documents obtained by WVLT News.

Representatives for Doe, the same company implicated in the ongoing covert lawsuit against KCS, allege the Americans with Disabilities Act gives Doe the right to seek change in Knox County schools’ policy.

“Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes, and so do reasonable accommodations,” the documents state. “The Knox County School Board’s written policy states that students with disabilities are entitled to equal opportunity and cites the ADA.”

The documents allege that Doe suffers from “extreme distress” when she hears the chewing noises and “needs to escape”.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs responded to the lawsuit on Twitter, calling it “GumGate.”

“I was informed today that the same attorneys responsible for the federal order mandating universal face coverings in Knox County schools have filed a new grievance in Federal Court. The problem? Children who chew –gum in high school classrooms,” he said.

In his tweets, Jacobs said he feared several more similar lawsuits were imminent.

A Harvard health blog cited in the papers said misphony causes a fight-or-flight response to sounds that others wouldn’t even notice, such as chewing or yawning. The legal team representing Doe said this condition, when activated, affects Doe’s ability to focus and learn. Doe misses about half of her class time due to her condition, the documents show.

“At the end of the day, constantly trying to escape the sounds, I’m physically and emotionally drained to the point that I can’t do things a normal kid my age would do,” Doe said in the docs. . “I’m just too tired.”

Doe went on to explain that his condition was unusual, but said his previous school, Knoxville Episcopal School, was able to accommodate him without issue.

According to the documents, Doe’s family made several requests to L&M STEM Academy, the school Doe attends, asking them to ban eating and chewing gum in class, which is common in educational settings. . Current school policy gives the right to enforce classroom food rules to the teachers themselves. Instead, according to the documents, the school told Doe to drop some of his classes in favor of taking more study halls.

WVLT News reached out to Knox County school officials, but they were unable to comment.

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