A bill banning the use of the term “Redskins” as a mascot for public schools is headed to the California governor’s office after passing out of the state assembly Thursday.
Four schools in the state use the mascot: Gustine High in Merced County, Chowchilla High in Madera County, Calaveras High in Calaveras County, and Tulare Union in Tulare County.
Assembly Bill 30, the “California Racial Mascots Act,” on Thursday passed the state Assembly on 54-8 vote. The measure, authored by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, would prohibit public schools from using the term for mascots, team names and nicknames.
“As the state with the largest Native American population in the country, we should not continue to allow a racial slur to be used by our public schools,” Alejo said Thursday in a news release. “California should lead the way and phase out the use of this derogatory term.
Loretta Rose, a board member for Gustine Unified, has been one of the more outspoken opponents of the bills.
“It’s a bunch of malarkey,” Rose told the Sun-Star late Thursday. “I’m very upset with the state. Actions speak much louder than words and there’s never been any actions of anything negative our school is doing.”
The State Senate on Tuesday also approved the measure on a 25-10. Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, whose district includes Merced County, was one of the 10 dissenting votes, according to legislative records.
Details of the Thursday’s vote in the Assembly were not immediately available. Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, voted against earlier versions of the bill this year.
IT’S A BUNCH OF MALARKEY. I’M VERY UPSET WITH THE STATE.
Loretta Rose, Gustine Unified School District board member
“The ‘R-word’ was once used to describe Native-Americans scalps sold for a bounty, and current use of the term is widely recognized as a racial slur that promotes discrimination against Native Americans,” Alejo said in Thursday’s statement.
Rose said the school has used the mascot for decades as a “proud tradition that honors” the region’s Native American heritage.
“There’s nothing derogatory about it,” she said in a telephone interview. “It’s used with pride in our area which was known for its Native American culture.”
Rose said comparisons between the school mascot and other terms commonly considered demeaning or racist are “not right” and “not fair.”
Elected school officials in Gustine and Chowchilla have criticized the bill, arguing the mascot issue should be decided at a local level and state officials should stay out of the debate.
Chowchilla Mayor John Chavez told the Sun-Star he was unaware the bill had passed out of the Assembly, but said he would be “disappointed” if Gov. Jerry Brown signs it into law.
AS THE STATE WITH THE LARGEST NATIVE AMERICAN POPULATION IN THE COUNTRY, WE SHOULD NOT CONTINUE TO ALLOW A RACIAL SLUR TO BE USED BY OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
Assemblyman Luis Alejo
Other officials in Gustine and Chowchilla could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Chowchilla school officials have estimated the ban would require them to spend nearly $1 million to change mascots, including buying new school uniforms and updating portrayals of the mascot on the wooden gym floor, in the stadium concrete and in murals on campus.
Gustine officials have estimated their potential costs at around $500,000 to make similar changes.
“It’s going to hurt our school district financially. We have only about 15 months to come up with a budget to do all this,” Rose said. “I hope Gov. Brown comes down here to look at our situation before he thinks about signing this. None of the people behind this bill have come to Gustine to see how much pride we have in our (students) and how well the represent our community.”
Amendments to the bill would allow schools to keep old uniforms still bearing the name if they are purchased before 2017, the Sacramento Bee reported.
This story will be updated.
|Chowchilla News Day
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