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Md. Private School Bans Use of 'Redskins' Nickname on Campus

Earlier this month, students at Sandy Spring Friends School, a private school in Sandy Spring, Md., decided to take a stance on usage of the term "Redskins," which happens to be the mascot of the local professional football team.

The Upper School student government, which covers grades 9 through 12, elected to ban the usage of the word on campus, including any apparel with the word on it. This marked the conclusion of an eight-month process, which included meetings with diversity specialists and faculty members and an editorial about the word last June. Students found wearing any apparel with the word "Redskins" will be asked to change, although apparel with the team logo is still permitted so long as it doesn't also feature the name itself.

In a Feb. 12 release announcing the decision, Eduardo Polon, a faculty adviser to the Upper School student government, noted that it wouldn't require a revision of the school's current dress code, which bans students from wearing "slogans advocating such practices and symbols of racial, sexual, ethnic or religious slander."

"Once you're educated and you know that most Native Americans think it's offensive, it's kind of a no-brainer," said Haley Crim, co-clerk of student government, to The Washington Post.

In a letter to members of the school's community, Head of School Tom Gibian praised students for taking a stance on the controversial issue.

"We encourage our community to model respectful discussion and honor the thought that went into this decision by our student leaders, which was driven by the notion we are all responsible for creating a school community that reflects the very best of who we are."

Sandy Spring Friends isn't the only school to wade into these waters in recent years. In December, the Oklahoma City school board voted unanimously to drop the "Redskins" mascot from Capitol Hill High School, effective immediately, much to the chagrin of some community members. At Neshaminy (Pa.) High School, meanwhile, the student newspaper has been locking horns with school faculty for more than a year over the usage of the term. In September, the paper's editor-in-chief, Gillian McGoldrick, received a month-long suspension for censoring a letter to the editor without the principal's permission.

Last week, McGoldrick detailed the ongoing battle over the nickname in an Education Week Commentary, which you can read here.

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