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Student-Athletes Suspended From Sports Over Racist Tweets

Five students at Gloucester (Mass.) High School, including two student-athletes, have been banned from participating in athletics or other extracurricular activities as a result of racially derogatory messages they recently sent on Twitter, according to the Gloucester Times.

The students were expressing their frustration (in a not-so-productive way) at Joel Ward, an African-American member of the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime to oust their Boston Bruins from the playoffs.

Most of the tweets included the "N-word," the Times reported last week. All of the racist messages have since been deleted from the students' accounts.

"I want to state how profoundly disturbing such remarks are at any time and in any context," Superintendent Richard Safier said in a statement, the paper reported. "The racial epithets expressed were compounded by their publication on a national sports website. We take this issue seriously. Such misconduct contradicts the values and standards of Gloucester High School and the Gloucester Public Schools as a whole."

Safier said that all students found guilty of tweeting racist messages would "lose participation in a sport for a considerable length of time," and that those students with "leadership opportunities" in sports or other extracurricular activities would be forced to forfeit those for the time being.

He did note, however, that the messages were sent while the students were off school grounds, and they weren't directed at anyone in the school community. Since participating in athletics or other extracurricular activities is often held as a privilege, not a right, for students, Safier said that the district believed the punishment to be both fair and a learning experience for the students involved.

All of the students in question will be required to go through an "extensive program that looks at diversity through personal and environmental awareness, skill building, and practical activities," according to the paper.

Gloucester H.S. wasn't the only school considering discipline for student-athletes as a result of racist tweets, as I wrote last week. These punishments may establish a precedent that other schools can follow when considering discipline for their student-athletes.

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