Last month we told you about the Neshaminy High School newspaper, the Playwickian, and their decision to stop using the term “Redskin” to describe their school’s sports teams, deeming it offensive. As it turns out, at least according to the school, they can’t do that.
As reported by the Student Press Law Center, the school’s principal emailed the paper’s adviser saying “I don’t think you have the right to not use the word Redskins,” which is definitely how things work. The email went on to say the paper was required to continue using the term until a hearing, scheduled for Nov. 19th, could determine the future of the paper’s use of the term. And then …
Shortly after the initial email, a full-page advertisement was submitted that reads ‘Neshaminy Redskins, nearly a century of school and community, history pride and tradition, go Skins,’ [Editor-in-chief Gillian] McGoldrick said.”
Legally, it’s a bit weird. The SPLC points out that “The Supreme Court’s ruling in Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier said that schools could censor speech within a curricular activity that is ‘inconsistent with it’s ‘basic educational mission.’'” However, PA’s administrative code “effectively wipes out the effects of Hazelwood in the state” by giving students the rights given under another court case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, which says the students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” So yea, maybe a hearing is the right call. However, a group of students being required to use a term they have already lambasted for its status as “racist, and very much so … a term of hate” is not entirely cool.