Public schools in California would no longer be allowed to use the nickname “Redskins” for mascots or athletic teams under a bill advanced by a panel of the state Assembly.
The name would be barred beginning Jan. 1, but schools would be allowed to use team and band uniforms and other materials with the name as long they had selected a new name to be used in the future and were not purchasing all new uniforms with the name. Schools would be able to replace up to 20 percent of the uniforms with the name until Jan. 1, 2019 but the replacements would bear the school’s new name.
The California Racial Mascots Act, was approved by the Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media moves to another committee that must approve it before the bill can reach the Assembly floor.
This is the third time since 2002 that the state legislature will consider bans on Native American-themed nicknames.
“There is obviously a lack of respect when we allow teams to brand themselves with racial slurs,” said Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville), the bill’s author. “The R-word was once used to describe Native American scalps sold for bounty, and in today’s society it has become widely recognized as a racial slur.”
California has four schools that use the Redskins name for their teams. Among them is Gustine High in Merced County, which opposes the state’s involvement in the decision of the name team. The school’s football team is known as the Redskins.
“At no time in the 80 years that Gustine High School has proudly displayed the Redskins mascot has any disparaging or derogatory use of the Redskin moniker taken place,” community leaders said in a letter to the panel. “The respect that the community and the School District have for Native Americans is clear and well documented. We believe that allowing the local control process to play out is the most appropriate way to address this matter,” it said.
Calaveras High School in Calaveras County, Chowchilla Union High School in Madera County and Tulare Union High School in Tulare County are the other three.
“This is long overdue,” Alejo said. “The bill gives a reasonable amount of time to prepare and phase out their mascots.”