By Cherri Gregg
NESHAMINY, PA. (CBS) — The Washington “Redskins” are taking on Philadelphia today. And as the country debates whether to continue using the team’s name, there is a local debate brewing at Neshaminy High School in Bucks County over the use of the controversial nickname.
Student editors at Neshaminy High School’s Playwickian newspaper decided to stop using their school’s team name “Redskins” because Native Americans find it offense…but they’re getting pushback from adults and school administration who want them to reverse their decision. Student editor Eishna Ranganathan, 15, says the student editors are planning to fight.
“We had been debating this, but now that it is taking flight,” she says, “we feel we definitely need to take a stand.”
Donna Boyle, who’s part native American and whose son attends the school filed a complaint with the human relations commission and says parents don’t want to change.
“They’re so emotionally tied to that word that they can’t think rationally,” she says, “you look up the word and you see it’s a racial slur…it’s demeaning, degrading, disparaging…but they say, ‘oh, no not in Neshaminy, we’ve redefined the word.”
Boyle says since she’s filed the complaint in September, she’s received threats from parents.
“They’ve told me to go back to the reservation, to leave their country, get out of the school district,” says Boyle, “it’s been bad.”
Students will meet with school officials this week. Robert Hankes of the Pennsylvania School Press Association says law supports the student editors’ decision to nix use of the term.
“They have control over their newspaper,” he says, “in the state Pennsylvania, its legal for students to operate a school paper unfettered by the district.”
Officials from the Neshaminy School District did not respond to requests for comment.
A Bucks County Courier Times poll of more than 200 readers reports 90 percent want to keep the “Redskins” name.