Redskins Patent Ruling Impacts Local High School Team

A ruling today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office effectively defined the popular sports team name 'Redskins' as a slur that is "disparaging to Native Americans."

But here in Pennsylvania, officials at Neshaminy High School in Langhorne, Pa. have yet to budge on their decision to continue using the term for the school's mascot, and students there are divided on the issue.

Members of the editorial board of the school's student newspaper, the Playwickian, have been battling school officials over use of the term in articles and ads in the paper since late 2013.

In April, the Neshaminy school board ruled that the newspaper could not ban the word, and called it a term of endearment for Native Americans.

The newspaper editors, however, declared the word a racial slur and have continued changing or omitting the word from the paper, despite the school board's ruling.

The student's push to ban the word as a racial slur mirrors the efforts of U.S. senators and some minority advocacy groups who are calling for the National Football League to give the Washington Redskins team a new name.


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Today, Playwickian editor Gillian McGoldrick said there were collective shouts of joy and relief in the newsroom when the announcement that six trademarks for the Washington Redskins were canceled by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

"I jumped up and down," McGoldrick said. "Everyone in the newspaper office let out a little scream because we thought it was so awesome that our country is changing it's views on this racial slur."

In November, Neshaminy High School principal Robert McGee was quoted as saying, "I don't think that's been decided at the national level, whether that word is or is not (offensive)."

NBC10 reached out to McGee and Neshaminy School District Superintendent  Robert Copeland for comment but they were unavailable.

Students at the school say they're torn.

"I think the name kind of really unites us. I support our name and think it should stay," senior Molly McIntyre said. "But I think if it's really offending people to an extent, it should be changed."

"It's been our name for so long, so I think they just want to keep it because why change it when its been here for 50 plus years," senior Mark Kruise said.

While it is still unclear whether today's decision will lead McGee and other Neshaminy school board officials to change its stance or the mascot name, McGoldrick thinks the federal ruling will at least increase discussions about what the word really means.

"I’m hopeful that it would push them to see that it is not a term of honor, and that it is a slur. I would love to see more of a push for a name change," she said.

Now, with added pressure on the NFL to get rid of the team name, Kruise thinks the school will follow suit.

"I think they're probably going to change it now, if the Washington Redskins do because they have the same name as us," he said. "So, we're probably going to end up changing it to whatever the school board decides."

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