High School Paper Editors, Administrators Clash Over Redskins Name
(PHILADELPHIA) -- Student editors of a high school newspaper in suburban Philadelphia are engaged in a war of words with administrators over the use of the school's team nickname, the Redskins. The debate over free speech at Neshaminy High School began after student editors at the Neshaminy Playwickian wrote an editorial on Oct. 27 on "why we refuse to use the 'R' word" -- a topic they claim "no one wants to discuss, but one that needs to be discussed" because of its offensiveness to American Indians.
"It is one of the most controversial issues in Neshaminy's history," began the editorial. "The word 'Redskin' is racist, and very much so. It is not a term of honor, but a term of hate."
The student editors claim school officials are trying to force them to print the name.
"Detractors will argue that the word is used with all due respect," read the editorial, which was supported by 14 of 21 members of the paper's staff. "But the offensiveness of a word cannot be judged by its intended meaning, but by how it is received."
Numerous editors of the Playwickian had talked about banning the use of "Redskins" since 2001. Some had avoided it, but others weren't quite so circumspect.
"We have been debating this, but now that it's taking flight we're like, 'We definitely need to take a stand,'" one of the paper's editors, 15-year-old Eishna Ranganathan, told ABC News Radio. "In previous years we have definitely brought it up."
Despite the clash with administrators, Ranganathan said the decision is having a positive effect at her school.
"What I've been actually finding out, a lot of people now they're actually saying they want to become more educated on this issue," she said.
This high school's dispute comes just weeks after the D.C. Council made an appeal to the Washington Redskins to change their nickname for the second time in history, which was backed by hundreds of American Indians who protested the NFL team's nickname.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio