Schools in California would have to stop rooting for “Redskins” under a bill banning the mascot that legislators sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday.
California has the nation’s largest population of Native Americans, including nearly 40,000 students enrolled in public schools as of last year, so lawmakers backing Assembly Bill 30 said the state should join a national campaign to have teams like the Washington, D.C. football team drop a name that critics call outdated and offensive. The measure, which passed the Assembly on a 54-8 vote, prevents schools from using the term in team names, mascots, or nicknames.
“For far too long we have allowed stereotypes and derogatory terms to become normalized,” said Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville. “It is time for we as a state to do what is right.”
There are currently four California high schools – in Calaveras, Merced and Madera counties – that use the mascot in question, and amendments to the bill would allow them to keep old uniforms still bearing the name if they are purchased before 2017. Opponents said the bill would insert the state into what should be a local matter.
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“This is a discussion that should be had at the school board level,” said Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach.