Pa. High School Student Newspaper Editor: “My High School Mascot Is Offensive”

Here. An excerpt:

When I raised my hand to vote in a classroom at Neshaminy High School nearly 18 months ago, I was unaware of the battle I was about to ignite as editor-in-chief of The Playwickian, my school’s newspaper. In the fall of 2013, one of my fellow editors began a conversation about our school mascot, which is also the name of every sports team at our school and our school’s nickname. This would soon become a national controversy over our use of a racist mascot and a legal battle over the amount of control students have over their publications in public schools.

This mascot is the “Redskin.” It has been consistently criticized by a Native American parent within our Pennsylvania school district for its derogatory and hateful connotation. The paper’s staff and I came to a consensus that we should listen to what this parent had to say and start a conversation about the future use of the mascot, given how offensive it is to Native Americans. We debated, did our research, and ultimately came to a vote—14-7—in favor of removing the mascot—and the football team’s name—entirely from our newspaper, essentially forming a new policy. Both the majority and the dissenting sides wrote editorials, and we went to press Oct. 23, 2013.

—Brent Greenwood for Education Week; image text from Winona Daily Republican, 1863

As the editor-in-chief since 2013, I continue to face reproach for this decision, including the possibility of criminal charges, as well as a lot of social-media bashing by my peers and the parents in my school district.