By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Editors and reporters for the Neshaminy High School student newspaper had an unusual field trip today: they were honored by Philadelphia City Council for standing up to school administrators and refusing to print the name of the school’s athletic teams — “Redskins” — because of its racially derogatory nature.
The Neshaminy students at the center of the national controversy were front and center today in City Council chambers, honored for their decision to ban the word “Redskin” in their school paper.
Councilman Jim Kenney was among the lawmakers reading a resolution in their honor:
“These young men and women, and their faculty adviser, deserve our praise for standing up not only for what is right and just, but also for standing up for their own journalistic integrity.”
Among the students addressing the council was Gillian McGoldrick, co-editor of the Playwickian newspaper.
“Before now, the only resolution we’ve ever had passed has been against us, by our school board, to disregard our student press rights,” she noted. “But we have all learned that taking this stand, and being in the minority, can actually make a difference.”
And co-editor Jackson Haines said the situation at Neshaminy High School is far from resolved:
“To see this resolution here, with our names not only written in it, but commended in it, is truly a special experience. Yet at Neshaminy there is still an unconstitutional policy on the books, and there is a still a racist institution that is accepted by the majority and indoctrinated in our education.”
The student newspaper originally banned the use of the word “Redskin” last year, but the school board opposed the move.
This past June the board approved what members said was a compromise, in which the editors could ban the word in news and sports reporting but could not prohibit the word in letters to the editor or editorials.
When the paper defied that policy this fall, McGoldrick was suspended as editor for one month and the paper’s faculty adviser, Tara Huber, was suspended from her job for two days.