Sidwell Friends School to ban Redskins gear

WASHINGTON — Clothing and gear with the Washington Redskins’ team name on it will not be allowed at Sidwell Friends School, in Northwest Washington.

In an end-of-year letter to parents, Head of School Bryan Garman wrote that the administration “fully supports” a resolution passed by the Student Government recommending the banning of “clothing with the team’s logo or official name, as long as it contains the word ‘Redskins’,” effective with the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.

The resolution by the student government explains that the school’s dress code says “children may not wear clothing with messages or images … that conflict with the School’s values.” The students determined that Redskins clothing “is in direct violation of our dress code, and should be enforced like any other violation.”

The aim, the students explained, was to “guide the educated Sidwell student down a path of ensuring social justice for all members of society.”

The government referred to the impact of communications with Native American activist and author Gyasi Ross in its thought process, saying in the statement, “No matter our intent in wearing Washington Football Team apparel, as Gyasi Ross told us, its impact perpetuates stereotypes and takes the voice away from Native Americans in our society.”

The student government’s statement regarding the resolution added that they considered the free-expression implications of the move, and that “the moment we start removing these thoughts — no matter their content — is the moment we lose the ‘dynamic educational community’ we so cherish and strive to ensure.”

But, the students added, “This policy reinforces such critical thinking, compelling students to think about offensive encounters in their daily lives.”

They concluded by saying, “We don’t ask that every member of Sidwell’s diverse community agree with this decision, but rather for everyone to respect its spirit.”

Garman, in his letter, said that the administration “admires the thoughtful manner” in which the resolution was made.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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