High school newspaper editor suspended for refusing to print the word "redskin"

The suspensions came after a long battle with school administrators

Published September 18, 2014 5:56PM (EDT)

           (AP/Steve Helber)
(AP/Steve Helber)

Editor-in-chief Gillian McGoldrick and faculty advisor Tara Huber were suspended from the Neshaminy High School’s newspaper, in an ongoing battle with administrators about the use of the word "redskin."

The editors of the Pennsylvania high school's Playwickian paper refuse to print the offensive term "redskin," the name of the school mascot, going against the orders of principal Ron McGee.

McGoldrick received a one-month suspension from her duties at the paper, while Huber received a two-day suspension from work without pay from the superintendent of Neshaminy School District, according to Student Press Law Center. Earlier this year, Huber received the Pennsylvania School Press Association’s Journalism Teacher of the Year.

The controversy, which ended with Huber and McGoldrick's suspension, and $1,200 being removed from the student paper's account, began last year when the editors  decided to remove the word "redskin" from the paper. However, in June, a student submitted a letter to the editor that contained the word three times.

"The staff replaced all but the first letter with dashes, following The Associated Press style for slurs," the Student Press Law Center wrote. "In his prior review of the issue, Principal Ron McGee told the students to print the word in full or not print the paper at all."

Huber left the room, the students decided not to print the word, and sent the paper to print, student editor Maddy Buffardi explained.

This high school battle brings up the issues of free speech, freedom of the press and of course the controversial term "redskin" -- and the team names and mascots in conjunction with it.

Steven Salaita wrote a particularly illuminating piece for Salon about why this term is so problematic, and many have called for a renaming of Washington's football team, the Redskins.

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

MORE FROM Sarah Gray

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First Amendment Pennsylvania Press Redskins School Newspaper