Maryland Private School Bans 'Redskins' Name and Logo in Dress Code

FedEx Field on October 19, 2014 in Landover, Maryland / Getty Images
FedEx Field on October 19, 2014 in Landover, Maryland / Getty Images
August 30, 2017

A Maryland private school has banned students and staff from wearing apparel that contains the Washington Redskins team name or logo.

Green Acres School in North Bethesda said the the name and logo is not only racially offensive, but at odds with their institution's mission, the Washington Post reported.

The private school concluded it could no longer "allow children or staff members–however well intentioned—to wear clothing that disparages a race of people," according to an original report from Bethesda Magazine.

The head of the school, Neal M. Brown, announced the decision Friday in a letter to students’ families. Brown believes "Redskin" to be a "racial slur," and said the team’s logo, at best, promotes "stereotypes and cultural misunderstanding."

He outlined in the letter how the school had conducted several discussions–at multiple levels–over the past year to debate the Redskins name and logo. The discussions took place between staff members, parents, and students from third grade to middle school level.

"Our dress code calls for kids to wear respectable clothing, not to wear anything that is offensive," Brown told the Post. "It isn’t a new policy, it’s just the application of our current policy."

Brown said in a phone interview with Bethesda Magazine that he wanted to enforce the rule in an age-appropriate manner, considering that Green Acres School teaches kids from age three to grade eight.

For instance, school staff may request older students to don a Green Acres T-shirt to cover any clothing with the Redskins logo, or they may call parents of younger students to reiterate the dress code.

Brown further highlighted the fact that the school was not trying to vilify Redskins fans.

"We’re in no way trying to vilify anyone for rooting for the local football team because, in truth, I root for the local football team," Brown said.

Brown said he has not received any negative responses to the announcement so far, suggesting that the announcement came as no surprise to parents or students after the lengthy discussions that took place the year before.

Brown told the Post that the rule's adoption was not a decision taken lightly considering Green Acre’s value for individual expression, including expression through clothing choice. Nevertheless, the "respectful" choice ruled out in this case.

"The need to be respectful outweighed the need to allow children and staff to express themselves as they would like," Brown said.

Green Acres is at least the second school in the area to ban Redskins gear, following the example of Sidwell Friends School. Former President Barack Obama, whose younger daughter Sasha is still a student at Sidwell, was among the politicians and sports figures who called for the Redskins franchise to rename the team.

The D.C.-area team has maintained the Redskins name since 1933, but the widespread controversy over the name began in the past decade. In 2013, a group of American Indians and Democratic members of Congress joined a panel in Georgetown calling for the franchise to change the team name, The Washington Free Beacon reported. Panel members claimed the name was, in part, detrimental to Native Americans’ health.

A 2016 poll conducted by the Post found that nine in 10 Native Americans do not find the Washington Redskins name offensive.