While the national debate about the Washington NFL team’s name continues to play out, local high schools around the nation are also dealing with whether they will ban mascots that are culturally insensitive.
The Houston Independent School District, will propose a new policy that requires several schools to change their name, including the Lamar High School Redskins.
The proposal would prohibit the use of "any race or ethnic group" as a mascot, nickname or descriptor of any Houston school. School board officials said that the Hamilton Middle School Indians, Welch Middle School Warriors and Westbury High School Rebels are the other schools that the board might vote to change.
"The time has come for the Houston Independent School District – the most vibrantly diverse school district in the nation – to acknowledge that some decisions made generations ago need to be reconsidered," Grier wrote in an opinion essay he submitted for the Houston Chronicle. "Traditions are important. But respect for cultural difference and sensitivities matters more."
The issue was discussed yesterday during a school board review meeting. And the Houston Chronicle reported that the board could vote on the policy as early as their regular meeting this Thursday — with a plan to have new mascots for the 2014-2015 school year.
The board, however, does not intend to vote on mascot names, just set certain guidelines.
Anna Eastman, president of the school board told the Chronicle that the new policy would bar names with inappropriate connotations and that it is up to school district administrators to figure out which mascots should be replaced.
Critics of the new policy say that change is not necessary. And some students who attend Lamar High School agree.
"We're not using it in a derogatory way,” Ryan Delecourt told MyFoxHouston.com. “We're using it as a symbol for a powerful person. That's what we're using redskin as a symbol for."
"I love the name redskin. It represents Lamar," said Alexis Guera.
But many say that the name should change. State Senator Rodney Ellis, for example, recently urged HISD to change Lamar’s mascot. "I think when the mascot was developed, it was politically acceptable," Ellis said to Click2Houston.com. "It may have even been appropriate at the time. Things change."
The Houston Independent School District voted 8-0 on December 12th to eliminate the use of racially insensitive mascots that demean Native Americans.