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Sign language now an option for...

Sign language now an option for Mississippi high school foreign language requirement

By: Jeremy Pittari - April 24, 2024

  • Senator Angela Hill, the bill’s author, said the legislation came at the request of a teacher in the Pearl River County School District.

Starting in July, Mississippi’s high school students will have another option to meet their foreign language curriculum graduation requirement – sign language. 

Sen. Angela Hill

Authored by State Senator Angela Hill (R), SB 2339 was signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves (R) last week.

The new law directs the State Board of Education to develop a curriculum related to the study of sign language.

“Any such class developed by the board may count as an academic credit for foreign languages for the purposes of high school graduation requirements,” the law states.

Senator Hill said the bill came at the request of a teacher in the Pearl River County School District. 

“I think it’s just one more option to have for a foreign language credit,” Hill said.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 50-0 and the House by a vote of 121-0, gaining universal support in both legislative bodies. Governor Reeves signed it into law on April 15th. 

“Usually, the simple things are the hardest to get passed,” Hill said.

Now, Mississippi will join a growing number of other states across the nation that allow students to choose sign language as a foreign language option. Some of those states include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Maine. The National Association of the Deaf notes that over 40 states officially recognize ASL as a language.

About the Author(s)
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Jeremy Pittari

Jeremy Pittari is a lifelong resident of the Gulf Coast. Born and raised in Slidell, La., he moved to South Mississippi in the early 90s. Jeremy earned an associate in arts from Pearl River Community College and went on to attend the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned a bachelor's of arts in journalism. A week after Hurricane Katrina, he started an internship as a reporter with the community newspaper in Pearl River County. After graduation, he accepted a full-time position at that news outlet where he covered the recovery process post Katrina in Pearl River and Hancock Counties. For nearly 17 years he wrote about local government, education, law enforcement, crime, business and a variety of other topics. Email Jeremy:
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