Education | National

Student newspaper punished over refusal to print the R-word

A patch for the Neshaminy football team. Image from Facebook

A student newspaper at a public school in Pennsylvania is being punished for its refusal to use the R-word.

The Neshaminy School District suspended Gillian McGoldrick, the student who serves as co-editor-in-chief of The Playwickian, for one month and deducted $1,200 from the paper's account. Tara Huber, the faculty adviser for the paper, was also suspended for two days for "willful neglect of duties and insubordination."

“I expected some sort of discipline, I never went in without knowing that,” McGoldrick told The Bucks County Courier-Times. “The biggest deal here is that Mrs. Huber has been suspended for two days for something that we did.”

The dispute began last fall when students banned the R-word from the paper because it is a slur against Native people. But school administrators wanted the paper to print a letter to the editor that repeatedly used the word, the school district's mascot.

The letter was to run in the June 2014 issue, the last of the school year. Students went ahead and published the letter but "staff replaced all but the first letter with dashes, following The Associated Press style for slurs," the Student Press Law Center said on its website.

In May, the school board said the student paper could stop using the R-word in news stories. But the paper was told to keep using the slur in editorials.

Get the Story:
Neshaminy benches student editor, criticized by Olbermann (The Bucks County Courier-Times 9/18)
Neshaminy adviser suspended over newspaper's word ban (The Philadelphia Inquirer 9/17)

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