A Maryland school will ban students from wearing gear associated with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, citing the offensive nature of the team’s name.
In a letter announcing the decision, Neal Brown, the head of Green Acres School, calls the team’s nickname a racial slur. “It’s use, whether intentional or not, can be deeply insulting and offensive,” the letter reads. “It is a term that demeans a group of people. Similarly, the team’s logo also can reasonably be viewed as racially demeaning. At best, the image is an ethnic stereotype that promotes cultural misunderstanding; at worst, it is intensely derogatory.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a controversial decision by the Supreme Court, which ruled in June that trademarks — even those that may be considered offensive — are protected under the First Amendment.
The school’s decision came after discussions with staff, students and parents, according to the letter. Students across a range of ages raised the issue, and discussed it during their study of Native Americans and during discussions on ethnically or racially derived sports nicknames and logos.
The letter indicates an understanding of the free speech implications of the decision. “As a community that highly values diverse points of view and individual expression, this decision is a challenge for us,” the letter reads. “Our Philosophy Statement both ‘encourages respect for others,’ while also ‘celebrating individuality.’ At times like these, these two concepts come into conflict. After listening to students, parents and colleagues, though, I believe that our need to be respectful and truly inclusive outweighs our need to support individual expression in this case.”