High School Newspaper Defends Ban on the Word ‘Redskins’ Over the Objections of School Officials

The school principal overturned the paper's ban back in November, but the editors aren't backing down -- they're bringing in reinforcements.

Photo Credit: spirit of america /

Washington D.C.’s NFL team may be the most well-known defender of the word “Redskins,” but they are far from the only one: across the country, dozens of high schools cheer on their own “Redskins” on football fields and basketball courts.

Among them is Neshaminy High School in Langhorne, PA, just outside of Philadelphia.

Their sports teams are known as the “Redskins” (or just “Skins” for short), and the football team in particular attracts the kind of feverish following that Pennsylvania is known for. But with heightened scrutiny surrounding the term “Redskins,” the school’s newspaper has decided that it will no longer permit the word to be printed in its pages.

The ban, announced by the paper’s editorial board last week, has already been overturned once by school principal Rob McGee. Back in October, the editors of the Playwickian first informed the school community of their intention to stop using the offensive word, only to be told via a November “directive” from McGee that the paper “[didn't] have the right to not use the word Redskins.” The decision to overturn the ban came as the football team was making a run through the state playoffs.

The paper, which has an adviser but is editorially independent, initially complied with McGee’s request, but this time the editors came prepared:

A law firm representing student newspaper editors has told school officials that the editors plan to resume their ban on printing the word redskin – and that any attempt to stop them would be unconstitutional.

“The students will proceed in accordance with their published policy and, if disciplined for doing so, will take action to defend their rights,” said the seven-page letter sent Friday by lawyers at Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz.

The use of the word “Redskins” has become increasingly taboo, as more and more people are calling on Washington D.C’s NFL team owner Dan Snyder to change the name of the franchise out of respect for the Native American community, members of which find the term to be offensive at best.

Sports editors and reporters at some of the biggest news outlets in the country have already announced that they would stop using the term when covering D.C’s football team.

Adam Peck is a Reporter/Blogger for Think Progress at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.