Pennsylvania School Board Aims to Overturn Student Ban of Word ‘Redskin’
On Monday, the school board for a Pennsylvania district overruled a high school’s student newspaper policy, which banned the use of “Redskin” from its publication. Instead, the board advocated a policy which allows contributors, letter writers, and staffers to use the term that some consider insensitive.
The Neshaminu School Board contends that the term “Redskin” is not derogatory and is not a racial slur when it is used in reference to the Neshaminy High School’s nickname or in writing for or to The Playwickian newspaper. According to Mike Levin, the attorney representing the school board, the district is well within its rights to protect free speech.
However, according to a Tuesday update by the Bucks County Courier Times, the board postponed their controversial decision to override The Playwickian’s ban and would take up the issue again at a meeting on Tuesday. It is unclear whether a 12-page letter from the student editors’ attorney, which the board received Friday, had anything to do with their delay in pushing through the new policy.
According to attorney Gayle Sproul, the board’s proposed policy for The Playwickian is “for the most part, overreaching, intimidating and retaliatory in tone and confusing in construction.” Sproul further stated that the students have a right to determine what is offensive and derogatory in their newspaper and that dictionary definitions often describe the word “Redskin” as “disparaging and offensive.”
The Bucks County Courier Times reported that the staff of The Playwickian had voted 14-7 to ban the word back in October.