High school newspaper editor suspended for refusal to use the term 'redskin'

Student Press Law Center

The faculty adviser and student editor of a high school newspaper in southeast Pennsylvania were suspended amid a drawn-out fight over the paper's refusal to use the term "redskin," Anna Schiffbauer writes for the Student Press Law Center.

Tara Huber, adviser to Neshaminy High School's Playwickian newspaper, was suspended without pay Tuesday and Wednesday by Neshaminy School District superintendent Robert Copeland, according to the SPLC. Copeland also suspended Playwickian editor-in-chief Gillian McGoldrick from her position for a month.

The suspensions stem from the paper's decision not to use "redskin" in its pages, despite insistence from principal Rob McGee.

The fight began in October, when the Playwickian’s editorial board voted not to use the term in any of their content. In June, after editors refused to publish the term in a student op-ed, McGee called McGoldrick into his office for a meeting to discuss her decision and confiscated copies of the newspaper.

Afterword, Huber told students McGee instructed her to change the passwords for the Playwickian's social media accounts.

When I talked to SPLC attorney Adam Goldstein in July, he told me the school's case is bogus:

The school board’s policy that prevents editors from removing “redskins” in submissions to the newspaper could open up the district to legal action because it imposes an unconstitutional restriction on the students editors’ free speech, Adam Goldstein, an attorney for the Student Press Law Center, told Poynter. This rule is particularly egregious, Goldstein said, because it purports to force students to adopt a certain kind of speech. Because of this, Goldstein does not think it can survive legal challenge.

“It may be possible to get dumber people on a school board, but I don’t how you go about it,” Goldstein said.

Here’s a list of outlets and journalists who won’t use the name ‘Redskins’

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.


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