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Sidwell Friends School Bans Redskins Merchandise

Starting this fall, students at Sidwell Friends School will have to leave any apparel featuring the name or logo of Washington’s NFL team at home or risk running afoul of the school’s dress code, Bryan Garman, Sidwell’s head of school, writes in his year-end letter. The rule change comes after some prodding by the upper school’s student government, but Garman writes that Sidwell’s administration “fully supports” the ban.

“Our student government passed a resolution stating that the mascot of the District’s National Football League team is offensive and antithetical to the values of the community,” Garman writes.

In April, the student government at the elite private school noted that the dress code’s stipulation that “children may not wear clothing with messages or images on clothing that conflict with the School’s values” should extend to Washington’s NFL team, whose name is widely considered to be a derogatory term for Native Americans.

“Thus, we have reached the consensus that Washington Football Team apparel (i.e. clothing with the team’s logo or official name, as long as it contains the word ‘Redskins’) is in direct violation of our dress code, and should be enforced like any other violation,” the students’ resolution reads.

Sidwell has a fairly casual dress code, though the resolution also states that the school’s affiliation with the Quaker movement “compel[s] us to amplify the voices of the Native American community.”

A Washington Post poll released in May found that only one in ten Native Americans are offended by the team’s name.

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Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.