“GumGate”: Family Files Lawsuit Against Tennessee School District Looking To Prohibit Chewing Gum And Eating In The Classroom

A Jane Doe and her parents have filed a new lawsuit in Tennessee, requesting that chewing gum and eating be prohibited in schools.

According to court records acquired by WVLT News, Doe claimed she has the medical illness misophonia, which is defined as “an extreme reaction to hearing normal sounds” in response to eating.

Doe’s attorneys, who are also representing Doe in the continuing mask litigation against KCS, claim that the Americans with Disabilities Act gives Doe the authority to request a modification in Knox County Schools’ policy.

“Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes, and so do reasonable accommodations,” the documents said. “Knox County Board of Education’s written policy states that students with disabilities are entitled to equal opportunities and it cites the ADA.”

Doe feels “extreme distress” and “must escape” when she hears chewing sounds, according to the records.

On Twitter, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs referred to the lawsuit as “GumGate.”

“I was made aware today that the same lawyers responsible for the federal order mandating universal masking in Knox County Schools have filed a new grievance in federal court. The issue? Kids chewing gum in high school classes,” he said.

Jacobs stated in his tweets that he believes several more such cases are on the way.

Misphonia, according to a Harvard health blog mentioned in the papers, produces a fight-or-flight response to sounds that others would not notice, such as chewing or yawning. Doe’s legal team claims that when this condition is engaged, it impairs Doe’s ability to concentrate and study. According to the records, Doe is missing almost half of her allocated class time as a result of her health.

“By the end of the day, by constantly trying to escape the sounds, I am physically and emotionally exhausted to the point that I cannot do things a normal kid my age would do,” Doe said in the documents. “I am just too tired.”

Doe went on to say that while her situation is rare, her former school, Episcopal School of Knoxville, was able to accommodate her without difficulty.

According to the records, Doe’s family has made many requests to L&M STEM Academy, Doe’s school, requesting that eating and chewing gum be prohibited in the classroom, which is standard in educational settings. The school’s existing policy provides instructors the authority to enforce food regulations in classes. Instead, the school advised Doe to skip some of her classes in favor of extra study halls, according to the filings.

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