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School board votes to prevent student newspaper from banning Redskins mascot

Neshaminy High is one of two Pennsylvania high schools still using the Redskins mascot. (TulalipNews.com)
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Neshaminy High is one of two Pennsylvania high schools still using the Redskins mascot. (TulalipNews.com)

A Pennsylvania school is attempting to force students to publish the term Redskins against their will.

If that sounds ridiculous, it's because it is.

As previously discussed in this space, the staff of Langhorne (Pa.) Neshaminy High student newspaper The Playwickian took a page out of the Grantland and MMQB playbook, voting 14-7 in October to cease using the school's mascot in print. In a since deleted editorial, the staff described the term Redskins as hateful, racist and offensive — a cause championed by those also hoping to rename the NFL team.

However, the Philadelphia suburb's school board approved an administration policy to prevent the students from banning the perceived slur, according to The Bucks County Courier Times. That's right. The school board upheld the principal's decision to force a newspaper into publishing material it finds hurtful.

What's more, the board is hiding behind the First Amendment, reportedly claiming that preventing a student who wishes to use the mascot in a story is a violation of freedom of speech rights. Except, the school board is not Congress, and the First Amendment also protects the freedom of the press.

The students reportedly have not used the term since the October vote, and the Student Press Law Center has provided them with a lawyer. In the MaxPreps database of nicknames, 71 high schools nationwide still feature Redskins as a mascot, although Sayre High is the only other Pennsylvania school to do so.

Last month, Houston (Texas) Indepenent School District superintendent Dr. Terry Grier banned the mascot along with three others he deemed offensive. "As educators, we see teachable moments in every experience, lessons to be learned from every challenge," Grier wrote in an opinion piece for the Houston Chronicle. "It's time we adults stand up and show our children how a thoughtful and caring community responds when made aware that our traditions are unwittingly hurtful. This is how we teach."

In a show of solidarity, the Bucks County Courier Times and its sister papers have also refused to use the term except in stories pertaining to the ongoing legal battle. After all, it's their First Amendment right.

(h/t USA Today)

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