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White teacher in US sues school district after suspended for using the N-word in classroom

February 19, 2012 - Chicago

A white school teacher in the US is suing a school district after he was suspended for using the N-word during a discussion with students about the perils of offensive vocabulary.

Sixth grade teacher Lincoln Brown, who filed a lawsuit against Chicago's board of education, claimed that his use of the word 'n***er' during a conversation with students was a constitutionally-protected attempt to teach his class "an important lesson in vocabulary, civility and race relations".

The incident arose after students, aged between 11 and 12, were left "unsettled and arguing" over a note that one of them had passed around class, containing lyrics to a rap song that included the racially offensive term, The Telegraph reports.

According to the lawsuit, Brown consequently started with them "a discussion about how upsetting such language can be, attempted to give his own denunciation of the use of such language and discussed how even such books as Huckleberry Finn were being criticised for the use of the N-word."

As the discussion was taking place inside his classroom with majority of black students, the head teacher, who is black, passed by and overheard.

Brown, 48, was then suspended for five days for 'using verbally abusive language' in front of pupils.

According to the report, Brown defended himself, saying that he was simply exercising his responsibility to educate children against racism.

"I asked them what would they feel if I used that word? I used the full word but I didn't address it to the students. I was very careful about that," the paper quoted him, as saying.eanwhile, the school board has dismissed his lawsuit as "without merit" and said in a statement that 'the principal determined that the way the teacher used the word was improper.'


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