Illinois School Refuses to Drop 'Midget' Name

Freeburg Midgets will remain as such
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 17, 2015 9:34 AM CDT
Illinois School Refuses to Drop 'Midget' Name
In this July 8, 2015 photo, Freeburg school superintendent Andrew Lehman, left, listens as Gary Arnold, president of Little People of America requests that the Freeburg Community High School change its nickname from the "Midgets" during a meeting at the school in Freeburg, Ill.    (Derik Holtmann/News Democrat via AP)

Athletes at a southern Illinois high school will keep the nickname Freeburg Midgets, despite the objections of a group representing people with dwarfism who find the name offensive. About 500 people gathered at the Freeburg Community High School late yesterday to urge the school board not to dump the mascot. The Belleville News-Democrat reports that when the board president announced the name wasn't going anywhere, "the cheer that erupted from the crowd crammed into the cafeteria could have rivaled one from any game in the gym." The Little People of America had asked Freeburg and a half-dozen other schools nationwide to drop the midgets moniker.

The Freeburg nickname was coined nearly 100 years ago by a reporter after he watched the school's short basketball team beat much larger opponents. Rodger Jennings Jr., whose son has dwarfism, attended the meeting. He said schools are supposed to protect children and be "bully-free." Supporters of the nickname said they didn't intend to hurt anyone by using the name. (Read more dwarfism stories.)

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